Tag Archives | Office

Will Google Docs Replace Word? Perhaps, but Not Today.

Google is predicting that its online office suite, Google Docs, will soon give people the option to “get rid of” Microsoft Office. With Google Docs in a less than robust state, that pronouncement sounds more like vendor bravado than prophecy.

Google’s entire premise is based on vaporware: It is promising to update Google Docs within the next year so that it will meet “the vast majority’s needs,” Dave Girouard, president of Google’s enterprise division told ZDNet Asia in an interview published on Friday.

Google is planning “thirty to fifty” updates that will make Docs more capable and on par with Google Mail and Calendar, Girouard said. He believes that businesses do not use Google Docs because it has not reached the same level of maturity as those products.

If Microsoft made a similar pronouncement, it would have been immediately dismissed as peddling vaporware. Even if Google gets it right, there is no guarantee that enterprises will make the switch for a multitude of reasons.

I believe that Girouard is overreaching with his marketing message. Organizations have standardized on Word, and have processes built around it. Switching would require training, and replacing software that is built around it.

Issues such as electronic discovery and staying compliant with privacy laws also come to mind. Who will own the data, and where will it reside? Will developers be content with the APIs that Google provides, and will they extend its functionality to be more business-friendly? Microsoft is years ahead building out the Office ecosystem.

Moreover, there are very good free and open source alternatives to Word that exist today–not at some nebulous date next year. Yet, Office still remains dominant, and Microsoft is also not resting on its laurels: Office 2010 beta 2 includes some Web services, and it has hosting partners.

Girouard made another point that begs more thoughtful analysis. “…I don’t think Office will entirely disappear, Instead, Microsoft’s offering will become a specialized offering for office workers who need its additional functions, akin to Adobe Photoshop, which is targeted at skilled workers,” he told ZDNet.

Presently, most Google’s products are aimed at consumers. I am not familiar with any large enterprises that run them aside from universities that have cut deals with Google to administer their Web mail. Students have little influence over the purchase, and any complaints likely go unheeded. Businesses don’t play that way.

The time may come when most businesses do turn to Web services for productivity software. Salesforce.com has proven that mission-critical business applications can be run remotely reliably. However, the big shift will not happen next year, and Microsoft will be a part of it.


Microsoft: Outlook is Not “Broken”

Microsoft Office LogoMicrosoft has officially put the kibosh on any effort to get the company to ditch the Word rendering engine for HTML based e-mails in Outlook 2010. Over 20,000 twitterers have taken up a call by fixoutlook.org to call on the Redmond company to switch — but the company isn’t having any of it.

“We’ve made the decision to continue to use Word for creating e-mail messages because we believe it’s the best e-mail authoring experience around, with rich tools that our Word customers have enjoyed for over 25 years. Our customers enjoy using a familiar and powerful tool for creating e-mail, just as they do for creating documents. Word enables Outlook customers to write professional-looking and visually stunning e-mail messages,” said the Outlook team in a blog post Wednesday.

The company also goes on to say there is no standard for HTML in e-mail. It does not address however the evidence that Word rendering is faulty, as shown by Fix Outlook’s comparison of an email in Outlook 2000 and 2010. The rendering in 2010 is frankly horrid.

I’m not sure this is a battle that Microsoft can truly win here. With HTML e-mail now all but a de facto standard in an age of advanced e-mail clients, using a word processor to render it seems almost backwards in thinking.

Microsoft’s refusal to budge also opens the doors to competitors, notably Mozilla, to capitalize on. Remember the last time the company failed to listen to users that one of its products wasn’t up to snuff? An upstart browser captured a quarter of the market.

What do you think? Who’s right here?