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Before Microsoft has a chance to release its latest Office offering (Office 2007), Google today releases its newest bundle: Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Google CEO Eric Shmidt reportedly said that Microsoft’s customers who aren’t “professional users” of Microsoft Office “”may be vulnerable.” Google is looking to steal away Microsoft’s average consumer users and perhaps some organizations such as universities. Microsoft’s response?
Microsoft Vice President Antoine Leblond explained that Microsoft doesn’t have plans to roll out an online version of Office. Instead, it is focusing on online services designed to integrate with Office, a strategy hoping to find the best of both worlds. “The future of software is going to be the combination of client applications [like Office] and [online] services,” Leblond said. “It’s not going to be one or the other — the black or white approach.”
Leblond also mentioned that Google will find it increasingly difficult to add new features to online software because its programs rely so heavily on the limitations of Internet browsers. As an example, printing in Google Docs & Spreadsheetis will be more limited than printing from an Office program, Leblond claimed. “The technology they are using has some inherent limits,” he said. “They are going to hit up against these limits.”
Microsoft Office sales account for $11.8 billion of Microsoft’s revenue. It sells the product both to consumers and businesses for upwards of $400. Some analysts are predicting that Microsoft will release a watered-down cheaper version of its sofware within a year in order to counter Google’s moves.
Until then, all Microsoft can do is keep mentioning Google Docs & Spreadsheets two greatest weaknesses: the limitations of browser-based software and security issues associated with having files stored outside your home/office.
But the word “free” along side “Google” may just be enough for many a user / small business to make the switch…