Microsoft office goes cloud to join cloud war with Google Docs

15:44, June 30, 2011      

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The war on cloud intensified as Microsoft Office announced its decision on Tuesday to go cloud in an attempt to compete with its immediate but not last competitor, Google Docs.

Microsoft holds a virtual monopoly on office productivity software. Most computer users in the world use the Office software for word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and other purposes. However, Microsoft Office faces a strong enemy -- Google Docs, which provides cloud service, that means users do not have to purchase any software to be installed on their computers. If they go online, they can start use the application, and they do not need to worry about their files, because the files also go with the cloud, and users can get access to their files at anytime, anywhere.

The cloud-based Office 365 is designed for the mobile age when people go with their software and documents.

The actual features and functionality of the tools have a lot of bearing on which productivity suite users choose. The Word Web App is more visually appealing and polished than its Google counterpart, but overall the two seem roughly equivalent in features.

When tested on a sample presentation in both the PowerPoint Web App and Google Docs Presentation, the PowerPoint Web App immediately presented with a diverse selection of attractive themes to choose from, but Google defaulted to plain black text on a plain white background.

On slide and image, in Google Presentations, the image filled the whole slide but the PowerPoint Web App was smart enough to size the image automatically.

When push comes to shove, the features of the Office Web Apps in Office 365 are pretty much the same as what Google Docs has to offer. However, Microsoft makes key features easier to get to, and works more intuitively. For users already familiar with Microsoft Office, the Office Web Apps version is easy to use.

Both Office 365 and Google Docs are Web-based platforms, and they will work from any Web browser. Google Docs excels in the Chrome browser while Microsoft Office 365 works best in Internet Explorer. It makes sense that each would make sure that their online productivity tools are optimized for performance and functionality in their own browser.

Collaboration in real time is the primary selling point of Google Docs, which can be shared with any other Google account. The users who share a file can all access and work with it simultaneously. Each user is assigned a unique color so users can easily identify who is making changes to what.

But in the price war, Microsoft can not beat Google Docs. Office 365 starts at six dollars per user per month for the Professional and Small Business plan. The Medium Business and Enterprise plans range from 10 to 27 dollars per user per month. But the Google Docs is free.

Microsoft also faces a challenge on how to go cloud while still keep the computer-based Office software.

Statistics showed that nearly nine of every 10 office computers runs one of the 14 versions of Office the company has released since the software's launch in 1989. The company now needs to convince those computer users, estimated at about one billion, to switch to Office in the cloud without disrupting the legacy version that is financing the transition.

The growing cloud market is profitable. The International Data Corp. projected the market for cloud-computing services and software is expected to grow more than 27 percent annually over the next five years and reach 73 billion dollars by 2015.

It is estimated that by 2015 one of every seven dollars spent on technology will be connected with cloud computing and the winners of the cloud platform wars will likely be the new power brokers of the IT industry.

It is reported that has added a communication technology called Chatter to its service to allow clients to communicate within its sales management cloud service. Amazon's Elastic Cloud has attracted enterprise customers because of its ability to scale up capacity to match peaks in client demand.

By 2015, it is estimated that software-oriented cloud services will account for roughly three-quarters of all spending on public cloud services.

Source: Xinhua
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