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Thursday, June 08, 2006


Miriam Parkinson

Yes MS office IS too expensive, even when I can get student editions for a significant discount and without losing any functionality (that I've noticed anyway)
However the internet is not infallable.
What happens when the internet goes down at the exact moment that you click save on something and the entire thing is left in limbo. When the internet becomes more reliable and companies and individuals are willing to put their trust in it being available whenever we need it then MS will have some real competition. At the moment however the average consumer will not put that much trust in the internet. Its far to big and scary.

Rob Irwin

Back in the day, when software ruled the roost and M$ could charge what it wanted... Office was expensive, but tolerated. In today's environment, with Office clones getting better and better, and even using M$ extensions, the price is just ridiculous... but what can M$ do? It's business model is based around flogging the gear at a premium. Its solution, so far, has been to add more "features" otherwise known as "stuff you will never ever want to use and, infact, will probably grow to hate within 3 hours", which doesn't seem to be a very sensible way to combat the excellent Office clones that are emerging.

Cameron Reilly

a good point Miriam, I hate it when I write a blog post and it disappears during the publishing process. But there are ways around that. For example, check out Gmail. Notice how it auto-saves a draft for you every minute instead of waiting for your click SEND and risk losing everything? Surely it isn't hard for them to build similar funcitonality into their office products. In fact, it wasn't that many years ago when Microsoft Office had the exact same problem offline. You would write a word doc. Word would crash, and you would lose everything. Then they started to put auto-save into the product, and I'm pretty sure this was only around Office 2000.

Miriam Parkinson

This is true but the essential problem will be getting individuals to trust net based word processors etc as much as they trust MS Word etc
Its hard enough getting people to grasp the concept of podcasts and blogs let alone relying on the net for every-day office applications.
That said, the second google have excel, word and powerpoint equivalents AND I can sync it to my PDA I'm there (assuming I can import MS documents) The PDA problem is the only reason why I'm still using outlook rather than google calender. Great idea but not enough functionality yet.


i recently had to decide whether i was willing to front up the $$s to buy MS Office, and I opted for Open Office. Totally free and I haven't looked back.
(Disclaimer: I use about the same range of excel features as you, Cam. Can't say whether it works well for power users!)

I've switched to Google for email and calendar though. And a combo of Google and Basecamp for project management, so I'm perfectly happy with the web-app solution.

Cameron Reilly

Miriam, you're right that changing user behaviour is always the hard part, but I know lots of people (like, for example, my dear old mum) who used to use Outlook Express for email but now use Gmail, because people like me, the tech support generation, suggested it. If they can make that leap, they can make this one. And here's how it'll happen... you'll get a phone call / email / sms / IM one day about six months from now from your friend / lover / parent / grandparent / significant other / one-night-standee who will say "Hey Miriam, you know a bit about computers 'n stuff, how can I buy Microsoft Office cheaply?"

And you'll say "Hey you crazy person, why buy Microsoft Office when you can get something almost as good for free?" and you'll point them to Google Office, knowing full well that you'll get ten times less support calls from them in the future.

Miriam Parkinson

The only way to reduce support calls from my mother is to ban her from technology altogether. She once spent 15min on the phone to an apple help center trying to get onto the internet until I pointed out that she had put the power cord from the cordless phone into her computer instead of the phone line. I dont get support calls regarding MS word because she's still using word 5.1 for mac and she doenst have ADSL because its too confusing. Other than that it all sounds good...

Ive been playing around with googles excel equivalent and I'll be looking forward to new updates and features. Its definately one to keep an eye on but I'll have to stick to MS for the moment.

Rob Irwin

Well the stuff I'm suggesting isn't neccessarily Net based at all. No sir, you can get this stuff up and running as its own app on your desktop and it's, essentially, no different to M$ Office in that respect. It's a concept everyone gets.

Jeremy Wright

Rob: On your first comment, when Office first came out, it was 1/10 the cost of competing products. People seem to have forgotten that Microsoft is one of the companies who have driven software prices *down* over the years.

Cam, I'll have a response to this later today. Suffice to say you aren't actually responding to what I said, just to what you think I said ;-)

Jeremy Wright

Also, Cam, on your last point... Paying manufacturers for software has been standard for nearly a decade. How do you think AOL got onto computers as a default install? Or MSN Explorer? Always paid placement. Google was following in this case, not leading.


You're missing the point Jeremy.

The price hasn't gone down when you no longer own the software. When Vista is released, Vista & Office will cost more than the hardware they sit on. Microsoft needs to evolve their business model.

I don't use support, so that is of no value to me. It's also of little value to "the masses" as most of them find Microsoft support about as helpful as a poke in the eye, which is also as useful as many of "the masses" find the feature bloat of Office, and the clustering of products, preventing individual sale. The formats are locked down, so many people can't even open them without purchasing software.

Google may be paying for placement (old hat), but sharing revenue with hardware retailers is a stroke of genius, especially after Microsoft has been screwing them for years. They'll go from getting screwed to getting paid!

Google is trying to "organize the world's information", that includes Office documents. This is 100% pure Google Strategy. Microsoft is only a small piece of their global information pie, Google has much bigger plans.

Jeremy Wright

Cam: Responded here: http://www.ensight.org/archives/2006/06/08/a-note-to-all-google-illusionists/.

Scienta: Sorry, but until I see scientific proof, or trend proof, that "most" users find Microsoft support unhelpful and that "the masses" find feature bloat in Office and that retailers will actually make money from the Google trick, this is all just smoke and mirrors.

And until Google actually makes money with a *single* product outside of search/adwords/adsense, I refuse to believe they are able to build a mainstream product or service.

But then I've been asking for proof of Google's perfection for 5 years and haven't yet had anyone show me. Feel free to change that though.

Either show me a declining share of Office share *or* usage or show me a single Google product with more than 100M users *or* making more than 1B$. Until then, this is all simply magic with no real substance.

And magic from a 10B$ company is just childish. It's like the uncle at the birthday party who makes balloon animals and thinks he's cool. He should have grown out of it by now.

Rajiv Vyas

Good point. I agree that 90% of us use less than 10% of the functionality. Most of my word processing is done using Abi Word on Linux. I save files as RTF and have never had the problem of other person not able to open it. For SS, I use Gnumeric. Now, if I can get those functionality on the Web, why bother having a desktop based OS dependent application?

The other thing is, I smell a strong possibility that Google will try and port most of the functionality of OO. Remember the tie up between Sun and Google. Think about what would happen if I could easily upload some of the most complex OO spreadsheet to Google Spreadsheet and then download them as well. All of a sudden, OO and Google get popular with at least 20% of the users and Excel becomes redundant. In my opinion, MS Word is already redundant.



When I loaded up Spreadsheet yesterday in IE6 and had nothing but a black screen, that was strike 1. I opened Spreadsheet in Firefox. When I loaded up a basic spreadsheet and lost formatting, that was strike 2. When I loaded up an advanced spreadsheet, with charts and graphs and it lost my formatting, and my charts that was strike 3. When I realized that outside of basic functions, there was nothing of any gravitas there that was strike 4.... ummm. yeah. 4 strikes to an out? Anyways... Google is a sinking ship at this time.

Cameron Reilly

yeah Aaron I wouldn't be trying to do anything advanced with it, I don't think that's it's purpose. And Google seems to be doing fine.

Duncan Strong

Nobody is going to be "killing" anybody in this space anytime soon. Calm down. :)

Just as Microsoft's rise to power (on the back of the PC wave, which was led by users' cries for faster deployment and more flexibility) did not put IBM out of business, Google's rise to power (to-date on the back of Gen Y's preference for online media versus traditional media) will not put Microsoft out of business.

As Bill Gates has said "when I was born, there was IBM. When I die, there will be IBM." (see http://jeffsutherland.com/2002/12/microsoft-vs-ibm-in-software-still.html)

For Gen Y (guess what folks - there is no money in selling stuff to Gen X so get over it) - it is the same refrain, replacing IBM with Microsoft.

Google and Microsoft will co-exist for years to come, and we'll all be the richer for it.

The big question for me is: can Google's dependence on Adwords/Adsense, which mirrors Microsoft's early 1980s dependence on the IBM DOS deal, underwrite a series of new franchises (as Microsoft did by extending DOS into the GUI era through Windows, and moving up the stack with Office?)

And if so, is directly challenging someone like Microsoft the way to go about it? Microsoft had some scary moments in the early 90s as they went about directly challenging IBM via the OS/2-Windows war in order to consolidate their grip on the PC platform.

All up, I'd rather be a shareholder of Google, not Microsoft, over the next 5 years. Way more headroom and hunger.

However, as I've blown all my savings on relocating to QLD, I hold neither :)

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