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Google aims to snag 90 per cent of Microsoft Office users

by Mark Tyson on 26 December 2012, 12:45

Tags: Office 2010, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

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Have you moved over to using Google Apps rather than Microsoft Office for your productivity tasks? Whether it is because of the price or the features Google wants more of us to move over and is aiming to convert 90 per cent of Microsoft Office users into Google Apps users. AllThingsD talked to Google VP and head of enterprise Mr Amit Singh about Google’s tussle with Microsoft in the office suite arena. During the interview the Google exec revealed that “Our goal is to get to the 90 percent of users who don't need to have the most advanced features of Office.”

2012 – the year we broke the barrier

In 2012 Google implemented several key changes and enhancements to its Google Apps suite of web-based office applications. Google Drive was introduced and, although it sounded like a new Sat Nav program, it integrated Google’s productivity apps with a cloud storage facility similar to DropBox. Also the productivity web apps, which can now be used in offline mode, are tweaked and enhanced regularly. “We know the gaps between our features and theirs. We're improving them week by week. We're going to get to the 90 percent,” said Singh.

The last year has also brought a remarkable boost in the growth of Google productivity app users. “This was the year where we broke the barrier and got large-scale customer adoption,” according to Singh. Large enterprises which have switched to Google’s office productivity apps include “Swiss drug maker Hoffmann-La Roche, where over 80,000 employees use the package, and at the Interior Department, where 90,000 use it,” details The New York Times (NYT).

Is it just the price?

The NYT thinks a great competitive strength of the “good enough” and improving Google suite is the price to businesses. “Google charges $50 a year for each person using its product, a price that has not changed since it made its commercial debut, even though Google has added features,” says the US newspaper. Security and data management have also been improved to appeal to businesses. IDC analyst Melissa Webster told the NYT that “Google is getting traction. Its ‘good enough’ product has become pretty good. It looks like 2013 is going to be the year for content and collaboration in the cloud.”

In comparison to Google’s flat $50 fee Microsoft’s Office 365 product costs between $72 and $240 per year per person depending upon required features. Singh agrees that cost was Google’s major competitive weapon but now the service offers more depth and breadth in its online collaboration facilities. Compatibility is slated to improve within the Google apps too “In Q3, if you import from Excel into Sheets, you won’t be able to tell the difference in Sheets,” boasted Singh. He also said the recent Google acquisition of QuickOffice will “help us a lot” with regard to PowerPoint compatibility.

Microsoft’s biggest and most profitable component is its business division ($24 billion revenue in 2012) and nearly all its revenue comes from the old style Office software sales according to the NYT. So 2013 is going to be a very important year for Microsoft to protect that market or divert users to its own online Office 365 offering rather than choosing Google’s.

HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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It is OK for low end tasks. I use it myself all the time but I'm a basic user.

However I've also supported it in the office where users put up spreadshessts with about 3500 columns and 2000 rows. Trying to do a filter and watching paint dry were very similar. A lot of user dissatisfaction ensued.

On the plus side, collaboration is great. Multiple people can work on the same document at the same time - very cool. No ribbon, no fat local install to crash. Infinite per change backups. Easy sharing wirh people outside your organization / firewall without the endless email hassle.

On the down. It can be very very very slow with big documemts. Requires a permananet connection. Doesn't play well at all in Internet Explorer, the old corporate standard. I've heard all this ‘good enoough’ from Linux free software types many times over the years. People only need to see one thing that doesn't work the way they want to go mental and yell at their IT department like spoiled children.
Does Google have a desktop app as well? If not, there simply is no comparison. There are things you can do with you local installation of Office that simply cannot be done with a browser based solution, at least not within a reasonable time frame.

If what they are doing is comparing Google's and Microsoft's online apps, then I can't really say which is better.
My experience of Chrome has been that it crashes a fair bit, so I'll give this a miss.
My experience of Chrome has been that it crashes a fair bit, so I'll give this a miss.

huh, you're doing it wrong.
I have no basis for a view on whether Google will hit their 90% or not, but if they do, I'll be in the other 10%. I am not putting my office data online with Google, period. Not now, not ever.

And for that matter, I'm not putting it online with MS or anyone else, either.

My data is staying on my machines, under my control, and not under any circumstances whatever is a data vampire like Google getting their hands on it, because I simply do not trust them with it. Hell will freeze over and I'll go ice-skating with the demons first.