Thoughts on the Future of Microsoft Office

There is a lot of news about recent developments on the Microsoft Office front. Microsoft has a beta of Office 2010 in circulation and Fortune Magazine is reporting there will be an online version available for free.

I know a lot of people think Microsoft would be crazy to offer any version of Office free. I think Microsoft would be crazy not to have a free version. While at first glance, Microsoft appears to have a stranglehold on the office productivity suite game, that position may not last forever. There are several reasons why this should change.

1. Cloud Computing and Online Applications.

While Microsoft has been happily filling enterprise orders, Google (and a slew of others) have released free online applications that have all of the functionality most mere mortals require from Microsoft Office. Did I mention it is free and online? That means users can easily access their data from anywhere.

2. Office Has Competition (Sort of).

On the Mac there are a variety of alternatives to Microsoft Office. I think the development of so many alternatives on the Mac is a primal, almost baked into our DNA . Mac users and developers remember the days when Microsoft held the future of the Mac platform in its hand with the decision to keep (or drop) Office support. Microsoft knew it. Apple knew it. Microsoft even flaunted it. Nobody wants to go back there.

This is, of course, an unrealistic fear in this day. Apple has its own iWork suite (superior in my opinion) and the Apple developer community has grown it’s own fantastic alternatives. I’m not familiar with the landscape on the PC side but OpenOffice comes to mind as another multi-platform competitor.

3. The New Workforce.

Kids these days. There is an entirely new generation going through school that is not as sold on Microsoft Office as mine was. Just like my generation displaced WordPerfect with Word, the next generation could very easily displace Word with something like Google Docs.

While I use components of Microsoft Office pretty regularly, it is only when I must. I’ll take Pages over Word any day and when it comes to presentation work, you’ll have to pry Keynote out of my cold, dead hand. Of course, I’m a nerd and think way too much about these things.

For people that have a more balanced set of priorities, they’ll use whatever comes on their machines. That is why it is ultimately Microsoft’s game to lose. There are some very smart people at Microsoft (and some very dedicated Mac geeks in the Mac Business Unit). I’m sure they see the writing on the wall and they will adapt. However, the days of competition crushing dominance are over for Microsoft Office.

10 Comments Thoughts on the Future of Microsoft Office

  1. brent_cameron@mac.com

    I agree with you David. The business model for Microsoft has worked out very well for them. Push your product onto the consumer and give them no other alternative. This works well until you have a group of people that want to change the status quo, enter Apple in the early 80’s. The Apple momentum has only recently picked up in speed with the iPod, the iMac, Intel CPU’s and with their latest addition that sends a jab back at Redmond called the iPhone. The Mac community has had to stick together in years past to support each other when times are tough. The company is on track to make some serious strides in all the markets that they are pursuing. I know no other company that changes the way we think about communicating with others. I love the Mac and iPhone platform because it changes the way I think about getting things done in life. To bring this all back to the subject of this blog post, I agree with you 100% about Keynote and Pages. I have gone so far as to delete Word and PowerPoint 2003 (or 2004?). I find that iWork is a near complete replacement for Microsoft Office. I still have Excel on my MacBook Pro and PowerMac G5 simply for the rare (and I mean rare!) need for Visual Basic support in Excel. I have converted at least 4 other people into using Macs and more specifically iWork instead of Office. I have shown them how easy it is to make a fantastic presentation or paper using the superior iWork suite. For my other friends that are using Dells, Toshiba’s, Gateway, etc. I have converted all of them to running either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux with Open Office pre-installed. All find that the free software completely replaces the rip off that is Microsoft Office. You are right, “kids these days,” iPod wearing, MacBook toting, iWork using, iMovie editing kids that just might change the future of computing and office productivity as we know it.

    Reply
  2. brent_cameron@mac.com

    I agree with you David. The business model for Microsoft has worked out very well for them. Push your product onto the consumer and give them no other alternative. This works well until you have a group of people that want to change the status quo, enter Apple in the early 80’s. The Apple momentum has only recently picked up in speed with the iPod, the iMac, Intel CPU’s and with their latest addition that sends a jab back at Redmond called the iPhone. The Mac community has had to stick together in years past to support each other when times are tough. The company is on track to make some serious strides in all the markets that they are pursuing. I know no other company that changes the way we think about communicating with others. I love the Mac and iPhone platform because it changes the way I think about getting things done in life. To bring this all back to the subject of this blog post, I agree with you 100% about Keynote and Pages. I have gone so far as to delete Word and PowerPoint 2003 (or 2004?). I find that iWork is a near complete replacement for Microsoft Office. I still have Excel on my MacBook Pro and PowerMac G5 simply for the rare (and I mean rare!) need for Visual Basic support in Excel. I have converted at least 4 other people into using Macs and more specifically iWork instead of Office. I have shown them how easy it is to make a fantastic presentation or paper using the superior iWork suite. For my other friends that are using Dells, Toshiba’s, Gateway, etc. I have converted all of them to running either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux with Open Office pre-installed. All find that the free software completely replaces the rip off that is Microsoft Office. You are right, “kids these days,” iPod wearing, MacBook toting, iWork using, iMovie editing kids that just might change the future of computing and office productivity as we know it.

    Reply
  3. brent_cameron@mac.com

    I agree with you David. The business model for Microsoft has worked out very well for them. Push your product onto the consumer and give them no other alternative. This works well until you have a group of people that want to change the status quo, enter Apple in the early 80’s. The Apple momentum has only recently picked up in speed with the iPod, the iMac, Intel CPU’s and with their latest addition that sends a jab back at Redmond called the iPhone. The Mac community has had to stick together in years past to support each other when times are tough. The company is on track to make some serious strides in all the markets that they are pursuing. I know no other company that changes the way we think about communicating with others. I love the Mac and iPhone platform because it changes the way I think about getting things done in life. To bring this all back to the subject of this blog post, I agree with you 100% about Keynote and Pages. I have gone so far as to delete Word and PowerPoint 2003 (or 2004?). I find that iWork is a near complete replacement for Microsoft Office. I still have Excel on my MacBook Pro and PowerMac G5 simply for the rare (and I mean rare!) need for Visual Basic support in Excel. I have converted at least 4 other people into using Macs and more specifically iWork instead of Office. I have shown them how easy it is to make a fantastic presentation or paper using the superior iWork suite. For my other friends that are using Dells, Toshiba’s, Gateway, etc. I have converted all of them to running either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux with Open Office pre-installed. All find that the free software completely replaces the rip off that is Microsoft Office. You are right, “kids these days,” iPod wearing, MacBook toting, iWork using, iMovie editing kids that just might change the future of computing and office productivity as we know it.

    Reply
  4. brent_cameron@mac.com

    I agree with you David. The business model for Microsoft has worked out very well for them. Push your product onto the consumer and give them no other alternative. This works well until you have a group of people that want to change the status quo, enter Apple in the early 80’s. The Apple momentum has only recently picked up in speed with the iPod, the iMac, Intel CPU’s and with their latest addition that sends a jab back at Redmond called the iPhone. The Mac community has had to stick together in years past to support each other when times are tough. The company is on track to make some serious strides in all the markets that they are pursuing. I know no other company that changes the way we think about communicating with others. I love the Mac and iPhone platform because it changes the way I think about getting things done in life. To bring this all back to the subject of this blog post, I agree with you 100% about Keynote and Pages. I have gone so far as to delete Word and PowerPoint 2003 (or 2004?). I find that iWork is a near complete replacement for Microsoft Office. I still have Excel on my MacBook Pro and PowerMac G5 simply for the rare (and I mean rare!) need for Visual Basic support in Excel. I have converted at least 4 other people into using Macs and more specifically iWork instead of Office. I have shown them how easy it is to make a fantastic presentation or paper using the superior iWork suite. For my other friends that are using Dells, Toshiba’s, Gateway, etc. I have converted all of them to running either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux with Open Office pre-installed. All find that the free software completely replaces the rip off that is Microsoft Office. You are right, “kids these days,” iPod wearing, MacBook toting, iWork using, iMovie editing kids that just might change the future of computing and office productivity as we know it.

    Reply
  5. brent_cameron@mac.com

    I agree with you David. The business model for Microsoft has worked out very well for them. Push your product onto the consumer and give them no other alternative. This works well until you have a group of people that want to change the status quo, enter Apple in the early 80’s. The Apple momentum has only recently picked up in speed with the iPod, the iMac, Intel CPU’s and with their latest addition that sends a jab back at Redmond called the iPhone. The Mac community has had to stick together in years past to support each other when times are tough. The company is on track to make some serious strides in all the markets that they are pursuing. I know no other company that changes the way we think about communicating with others. I love the Mac and iPhone platform because it changes the way I think about getting things done in life. To bring this all back to the subject of this blog post, I agree with you 100% about Keynote and Pages. I have gone so far as to delete Word and PowerPoint 2003 (or 2004?). I find that iWork is a near complete replacement for Microsoft Office. I still have Excel on my MacBook Pro and PowerMac G5 simply for the rare (and I mean rare!) need for Visual Basic support in Excel. I have converted at least 4 other people into using Macs and more specifically iWork instead of Office. I have shown them how easy it is to make a fantastic presentation or paper using the superior iWork suite. For my other friends that are using Dells, Toshiba’s, Gateway, etc. I have converted all of them to running either Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux with Open Office pre-installed. All find that the free software completely replaces the rip off that is Microsoft Office. You are right, “kids these days,” iPod wearing, MacBook toting, iWork using, iMovie editing kids that just might change the future of computing and office productivity as we know it.

    Reply
  6. brevort1@me.com

    I agree. MS Office will not maintain it’s monopoly position in the office suite market as it has since nearly the beginning of the PC era. My 154 middle school students will arrive at school next month to find that Office has been replaced with Open Office on all student (and teacher) workstations. I’ve put Open Office on all my Macs this summer, put it through it’s paces, and cannot find any practical shortcomings. In fact, I quickly forgot that I WASN’T using Word or Powerpoint. Thanks for a thoughtful article.

    Reply
  7. brevort1@me.com

    I agree. MS Office will not maintain it’s monopoly position in the office suite market as it has since nearly the beginning of the PC era. My 154 middle school students will arrive at school next month to find that Office has been replaced with Open Office on all student (and teacher) workstations. I’ve put Open Office on all my Macs this summer, put it through it’s paces, and cannot find any practical shortcomings. In fact, I quickly forgot that I WASN’T using Word or Powerpoint. Thanks for a thoughtful article.

    Reply
  8. brevort1@me.com

    I agree. MS Office will not maintain it’s monopoly position in the office suite market as it has since nearly the beginning of the PC era. My 154 middle school students will arrive at school next month to find that Office has been replaced with Open Office on all student (and teacher) workstations. I’ve put Open Office on all my Macs this summer, put it through it’s paces, and cannot find any practical shortcomings. In fact, I quickly forgot that I WASN’T using Word or Powerpoint. Thanks for a thoughtful article.

    Reply
  9. brevort1@me.com

    I agree. MS Office will not maintain it’s monopoly position in the office suite market as it has since nearly the beginning of the PC era. My 154 middle school students will arrive at school next month to find that Office has been replaced with Open Office on all student (and teacher) workstations. I’ve put Open Office on all my Macs this summer, put it through it’s paces, and cannot find any practical shortcomings. In fact, I quickly forgot that I WASN’T using Word or Powerpoint. Thanks for a thoughtful article.

    Reply
  10. brevort1@me.com

    I agree. MS Office will not maintain it’s monopoly position in the office suite market as it has since nearly the beginning of the PC era. My 154 middle school students will arrive at school next month to find that Office has been replaced with Open Office on all student (and teacher) workstations. I’ve put Open Office on all my Macs this summer, put it through it’s paces, and cannot find any practical shortcomings. In fact, I quickly forgot that I WASN’T using Word or Powerpoint. Thanks for a thoughtful article.

    Reply

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