Microsoft joins the mile high club, embraces the cloud

It seems like it has been forever since Google first unveiled its Google Docs online productivity suite and popularized the concept of working in the cloud, so to speak. Sure it was embraced by many, businesses around the world were generally hesitant to stray from the addiction that Microsoft Office has become. Since then, a number of additional players have joined the fray and released online suites of their own. Among them are Adobe’s relatively new Acrobat online suite focused on word processing and collaboration, and what is likely the most extensive collection of online productivity applications, the Zoho suite. Despite extensive functionality, user-friendly interfaces and superior portability, Microsoft Office still owns the lion’s share of the enterprise productivity market. Beyond the Google Docs solution which Google doesn’t focus on nearly enough to make it a true player, one of the biggest barriers for these online suites is exposure. Microsoft has already flooded the market so completely that most businesses simply aren’t seeking out an alternative productivity suite. As such, it is quite likely that the first provider to find a path into offices around the world will be the first to potentially displace a more significant percentage of MS Office users. But what happens if that MS Office suite competitor who finally garners this exposure is Microsoft? It looks like that just might be the case as Microsoft has now formally but the online productivity world on notice. The next update of Office will indeed be launched along side a new collection of online “light” Microsoft Office applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. A few of the bigger competitors may still hang around for a while after this release, but “Office Web applications” likely mean doomsday for the bulk of competitors hoping to take a bite out of MS Office business. As far as timing Microsoft hasn’t been overly clear on a time line for the next Office release, leaving the competitive stay of execution open-ended at this point.

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