Barbarians at the Gates?

Microsoft is publicly responding to the Google/Sun deal with typical confidence, stating that the Office suite is not threatened by OpenOffice and that they don’t envision future web-based Office software (neither does Google, evidently). Microsoft believes that with enhancements to its CRM and Office applications, it can integrate current web-based services such as AOL Instant Messenger with its own products and by adding collaborative features such as Groove to Office, it will be able to keep the focus on the desktop. Perhaps this is still where the smart money lies, however, there are several reasons why this may yet tip in favor of a combination of Open standards and web services.

  • Microsoft claims that they have always competed with OpenOffice. Sure they have. In the game space of the technorati and the innovators, certainly, but when US State governments get behind the Open document movement what does that tell us?
  • OpenOffice and StarOffice are maturing applications that are starting to create a buzz outside of innovation circles, compared to MS Office which as a mature application is more lumbering having accumulated many different features stapled on by different design teams over the last two decades.
  • Those who have worked with OpenOffice and StarOffice, and perhaps businesses in countries and industries that have not been dominated by Microsoft might say these applications are far past the early adopter phase but for most business users MS Office has been the rule of thumb since at least 1995. During this cycle, the late majority has become more technically savvy and some will have less trepidation about joining the early adopters, at least in applications that they completely understand – email, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Standards organizations are beating the drum louder and louder for de jure rather than de facto document standards.
  • Five years ago, even three years ago, would there have even been a discussion about Microsofts dominance in the business application space?
  • Much more to come…

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