Microsoft is yet again going head to head with online supremo Google, by announcing a free web-based version of its Office software. Reversed from last week where Google announced details of their new Chrome OS, and the month before that when Microsoft re branded it’s search to Bing.
‘Office 2010’ will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote when it is released next year, albeit lighter versions that the desktop variants. The move is seen as a direct competitor to ‘Google Docs’, which since it’s launch nearly three years ago has taken a considerable amount of usual Microsoft revenue.
“We believe the web has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity,” Microsoft’s group product manager for Office told the news team over at the BBC.
“We have over a half a billion customers worldwide and what we hear from them is that they really want the power of the web without compromise. They want collaboration without compromise.
And what they tell us today is that going to the web often means they sacrifice fidelity, functionality and the quality of the content they care about. We knew that if and when we were ever going to bring applications into a web environment, we needed to do the hard work first because we hold such a high bar,” said Mr Bryant.
A beta is expected to be released at the end of 2009, which the full version shipping in 2010. Microsoft estimate over 400 million customers are currently registered with their ‘Windows Live’ service and they would get access to the software free of charge.
Analysts have mostly given the thumbs-up to Microsoft for moving some of its applications to the web, even if it might cost them dearly.
Although the moved has been welcomed, The Wall Street Journal has estimated that offering free online software could “put at risk as much at $4bn (£2.46bn) in revenue”. But at least the customers will still be customers of Microsoft. Without this switch then they risk losing clients and revenue to Google altogether.
it is good to see Microsoft stepping up to the plate, and changing their Software focus of the last few decades into something more suited for today’s market. And let’s face it, if anyone can take on Google at their own game it is the big M, and I for one think the competition is a great thing!