Is An Ad-Based Version Of Microsoft Office The Best They Can Do?

from the think-deeper dept

It's been talked about in various circles for quite some time, but this is the first time I can remember Microsoft actually admitting that they would consider giving away free, ad-supported versions of Microsoft Office in an attempt to fend off the potential competition coming from other office suite sources. The company has increasingly been facing pressure from the Open Office/Star Office space, especially among some companies and governments that prefer to go with more open solutions. However, it still hasn't taken a serious bite out of their market share. The more serious competition may actually be coming from elsewhere, with a variety of companies starting to offer web-based office productivity tools. With competition coming from such different angles, it's good that Microsoft has realized that it's going to have to change at least some aspect of what they're doing. While a lot of people thought this was part of the plan behind their "Live" strategy -- that effort has mostly been focused on different types of web services. So, the response here appears to be to see what happens if they go lower down the chain with a free ad-supported version of Office. However, it still seems like they may be thinking about this incorrectly. They're talking about how they can use this to "woo entry-level users," which suggests they may not recognize the type of competition they're facing. The real threat from the offerings coming out of Google and a few different startups isn't really that they're free, or for "entry-level" users, but that they allow users to do things that traditional desktop software doesn't really allow. The power of things like Google's Writely is how it can be used for collaboration, not just that it's free. It's good to see Microsoft thinking about these issues, but if they are only looking at it from the viewpoint of "how do we offer a free version," then they risk missing the real advantages that their competitors are serving up.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2006 @ 8:21pm

    sheesh...

    The power of things like Google's Writely is how it can be used for collaboration

    microsoft usually has a knack for people who are computer use incompetent. go figure it's google who made is so the dumb ass who can't figure out how to "collaborate" on an office or powerpoint project can.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2006 @ 11:49pm

    Re: sheesh...

    Umm. What?

     

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  3.  
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    whitestone, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:14am

    collaboration

    They may offer webbased MSO for ads, but charge extras for collaboration. Their traditional source of income is Windows and office, but they try to generate others cashcows by integration of MSO en WXP with MS server software. This trend can be seen with the new MSO version.
    If they can link webbased MSO with having a genuinie windows check, or figure out a way to offer webbased office to companies when they have some MS portal software running, they will gladly consider such an option.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 1:31am

    what about people with no net-access?

    what about the people that dont even have net access? (on the go w/o wifi or people that just dont want/need the net) would it keep the software from working since it cant dish out ads and make them money?

     

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  5.  
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    Rabid Wolverine, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:20am

    Office

    It's going to take a WHOLE lot to knock Microsoft out of the Office chair... And I personally don't think that they have anything to worry about in the short term.

    However, If someone comes up with a truly 'web' centric and integrated set of applications then they will have something to worry about. Especially if they do the core features right and forget all of the frills.

    MS Office has become 'feature' laden. All of their applications are full of seldom used features that quite frankly make operating office software more confusing and harder. Not to mention the fact that it causes code bloat.

    A little AI research into how people use this stuff coupled with an 'intelligent' applications that 'learns' the users preferences would go a long way towards relieving this problem.

     

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  6.  
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    echostorm, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 5:07am

    what?

    This may have been the worst article I've ever read by Mike. What the hell are you talking about? I mean, lets sum it up. Office is king on the desktop and will probably stay that way. Google is doing an office thing online. Microsoft is doing the same thing. Mike wants more... of something..
    Were you guys just short on your MS bashing quota or is it just the end of the week and you've already checked out?

     

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  7.  
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    mousepaw, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 6:13am

    More Ads?

    Wow. I've been scrambling to figure out how to "turn off" macromedia and flashplayer ads. They drive me NUTS. If I found out my kid had to put up with ad-supported "free" software, I'd yank him out of that class. He can do his own research on what he wants to use. There is a lot of stuff going on in schools today; note the recent articles written on the adverse effects of too much homework, for example.

    Back to the issue: how are they supposed to get anything done if they're always distracted by ads? Most of them have the attention span of a flea... What happened to kids being kids and school being fun?

    Further, we live in a society that is already overloaded with information and technology and being able to multi-task is the only way to get and keep a job but it's killing us. It seems we have to practice staying calm, relieving stress and gaining focus. Marketing companies with their subliminal suggestions, human behavioural tracking and ways to turn our heads to their way of thinking is already everywhere. I guess they decided the teens buying power (really their parents' money) wasn't young enough, now they have to attack even younger children. Insidious indoctrination.

    Microsoft should know better. Obviously they don't pay much attention or give much credence to their competition or they'd have figured out how to manipulate a large pc mfr into giving away computers with their software on it. After all, that's how they got started, isn't it?

    When I started working with computers we had dual disk drives (single-sided, single density!) and you ran software on one and collected data on the other. (Anybody remember that?) Magic Wand (I think Peachtree wrote it) was a powerful (as you could get on these sytems) and extremely user-friendly word processor and I've lamented it's loss. We then moved into the world of Word Star. That was after the change from CP/M to MSDos. (Enter Bill Gates) It seemed the harder something was to learn, the more you got paid for knowing it. I remember SuperCalc being our spreadsheet of choice and it did things that Lotus and Excel still haven't figured out. And the programs were all under 100K big! Alas, I don't still have the monochromatic-all-in-one with the old software. If it weren't for the internet, I probably never would have had to upgrade. There was the odd commercial on the radio and billboards were a lot fewer. One could actually think and drive at the same time!

    I believe that kids should learn application software and hardware, firm ware, etc., but should not be on the internet in school. The internet should be for home studies and under the guidance of an adult. I think it would be in all of the software houses' interests to offer up free software (I mean contact the schools - not wait for the schools to contact them) so that the kiddies all have an opportunity to check them all out.

    "nuff" said.

     

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  8.  
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    Reed, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 7:51am

    Open Office rocks the block!

    "It's going to take a WHOLE lot to knock Microsoft out of the Office chair... And I personally don't think that they have anything to worry about in the short term."

    I would have to respectively disagree. I use Open Office everyday and everyone I know uses it too, plus it is compatible with all the major elements of MS office. It has already happened, they are losing their hold. I have heard a few people complain that some features they use in MS Office are missing, but how long until those few issues are shored up? I mean after all we are just talking office software, not rocket science. MS days of raking in the cash for the same old piece of re-hashed software are coming to a end... yea

     

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  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 9:49am

    Re: what?

    This may have been the worst article I've ever read by Mike. What the hell are you talking about? I mean, lets sum it up. Office is king on the desktop and will probably stay that way. Google is doing an office thing online. Microsoft is doing the same thing. Mike wants more... of something..

    I guess I didn't do a very good job explaining, so I apologize.

    I did not say that Microsoft was doing the same thing. Actually, what I was saying is that they're doing something different. In order to combat the potential of Google to compete, they're going to just make their own offering cheaper and support it by ads.

    We believe this is a poorly thought out strategic move, as it's reactive, and focused on the low-end of the market, rather than trying to come up with more value to compete with Google by offering something that people want more (not just because it's cheap or free).

    So, I also disagree with your claim that this is Microsoft "bashing." It's not intended that way at all. It's intended to help them realize that they can be much more strategic in what they do.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 9:53am

    I use Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice and have no problems at all in my company's corporate environment. I do laugh every time a IT person walks into my office to apply some Office or Outlook fix and sees that I don't run those apps.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: sheesh...

    and what is it that you don't understand? should i have put computer-use incompetent... or is "computer use incompetent" with the quotes better? or let me write it phonetically... computer yoos (like moose) incompetent. or did the typo throw you off... usually if you see something like "they make is" you can assume that the person meant "it".

     

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  12.  
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    Endiablado, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: sheesh...

    I think the individual who replied to your post put it rather elegantly. Your post makes no sense. If you tried using proper grammar you might more luck getting your point across.

     

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  13.  
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    Paul`, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 5:50am

    Who wants to pay $200+ anyway?

    With free or MUCH cheaper alternatives out there for the same quality why would anyone fork out that kinda money? MS have to change the way the make their money.

    Open Source FTW!

     

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  14.  
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    Boris Jacobsen, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 7:18am

    Ads for the poor

    So those who can't afford Word will be bombarded with adverts for what? Word?

     

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  15.  
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    james, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 7:19am

    OO

    MS Office, what's that? I use Open Office.

    But really, I like Open Office (and use it exclusively), but I do not think it posses much of a challange to MS Offce. I have a small business and can cope with the occational wierd way that OO will render an MS doc, but most people are not that forgiving, or are not tech savvy enough and would be scared off by that alone.

    But, I have been using more online office tools lately and the advantages of those may be pose a challange to MS Office.

     

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  16.  
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    Bad Mark, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 10:47am

    Would businesses actually use this?

    Businesses are already doing their best to fend employees off of browsing the net, now lets embed something VERY distracting right into yor Office application? I would think this is an easy no go.

     

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  17.  
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    ramzan, Oct 15th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    office xp

    office xp free downloads softwares now

     

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  18.  
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    enbloc system, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 11:22am

    employment

    Why people invest so much money and efforts when they are having other ways to do the same thing with less efforts and with big return......YOU have to think ABOUT this. WHY companies like us PROVIDING all these stuff to you people.....This simply an idea of advertising...Do you have any IDEA!!!!!If yes then share with us. enbloc-system.net/ID No.470.html, not only carry good things but also implements new thoughts

     

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  19.  
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    Sajit gupta, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 11:19pm

    business opportunity

    Why people invest so much money and efforts when they are having other ways to do the same thing with less efforts and with big return......YOU have to think ABOUT this. WHY companies like us PROVIDING all these stuff to you people.....This simply an idea of advertising...Do you have any IDEA!!!!! If yes then share with us. Enbloc.biz/010.int, not only carry good things but also implements new thoughts

     

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