Microsoft Works To Battle Google

    September 22, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Microsoft may set up an online version of its low-end Works productivity suite to compete with offerings from Google and a number of startup companies.

Microsoft Works To Battle Google
Microsoft Versus Google… Here We Go Again

Just as users of Google’s Writely online word processor were receiving emails that their logins were becoming Google accounts, Microsoft began to more openly talk about productivity software in the online arena.

Microsoft’s Alan Yates said in a Reuters report the company wants to find more ways of reaching potential customers:

“We’re also thinking about how we might take advantage of new business models like advertising and other payment models, as well as new forms of distribution,” said Yates.

When Microsoft first began to discuss online options like Office Live, it appeared the company had productivity software in mind for the online effort. Instead, Office Live arrived as an email and small website hosting service, with options for collaboration and other business features available.

But no Excel or Word, arguably two of the most widely used business applications in the world. They represent the foundation of Office, which delivers about a quarter of Microsoft’s $44 billion in revenues to the company. It isn’t difficult to see why the company would not be eager to put that online.

Placing Works in the Office Live offerings would be a compromise, one that could boost that products revenue by using an ad-supported model, while keeping Office a shrinkwrap product.

Google has taken a step towards making word processing, spreadsheets, calendars, and email all available from a single sign-on. Microsoft could do the same, but they will have to do it better to exceed the Google hype.

Where Google betters Microsoft, according to Techdirt, is in collaboration. The Writely product was built with that in mind.

Collaboration does not look like much of an obstacle to Microsoft. They already offer collaboration features in Office Live. Extending that to create a SharePoint-lite for documents and spreadsheets should be something the engineers in Redmond can accomplish.

That leaves it up to Google to make the next move, if the much-rumored “Google Office” challenger to Microsoft is truly taking form. An extended look at the company by the Chicago Tribune suggests this may be more difficult than some may think for Google to do:

While the company started with a run of blockbuster hits–search, maps and Gmail–it hasn’t had one since.

“The sense that Google can do everything well has been tarnished,” said Joe Kraus, who co-founded and then sold, which pioneered computer search in the early 1990s. “They’ve made people say, `Wait a second, not everything coming out of Google is amazing.'”

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.