Microsoft is the company much talked about this week with the launch of Office 365 on June 28, 2011. The launch is reminding us to the Microsoft commercials launched about 6 months ago (the “to the cloud” commercials.)
The company has actually pitched us with its catchy but ambiguous phrase: “To the cloud” – for promoting the ability of Windows 7 and Windows Live to bring people, well, to the cloud. The commercials raise many comments, such as getting classified as somewhere in between “mildly irritating” and “intolerable” by Amelie Gillette in A.V. Club, and considered as misleading by many, such as this blogger’s blog post on Juggle.com.
Introducing: Office 365 – a small business cloud solution
The launch of Office 365, a cloud-based collaboration tool, reminds us to the “to the cloud” ads that are still ringing in our head today (maybe it’s a sign of a successful ad campaign?)
The cloud collaboration software itself is promising, with a hint of been-there-done-that concept (“Work from virtually anywhere and on almost any device.”)
Rhonda Abrams reports on USA Today that Microsoft hopes its offer will be less confusing and more compelling than the “to the cloud” TV ads. In her article, Kurt DelBene, the President of Microsoft Office Division mentions that he envisions that 50 percent of small businesses will adopt Office 365 within 10 years.
One issue raised up by PCWorld Business Center is that the customers of Microsoft BPOS – essentially the previous version of Office 365 – will need to wait for about 2 months to enjoy Office 365. Not good.
Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps
With Office 365, Microsoft will try to win back small businesses; in doing so, the company will fight Google (with its Google Apps) head to head to win the $100 billion a year cloud market.
In addition to that, Peter Yared writes on VentureBeat that Office 365 will clobber Google Apps – thanks to its familiar Microsoft Office-like interface with pretty-looking front-end.
To compare, Peter mentions that Google Apps “looks like it was made by college students from a weekend project.” Function-wise, Peter also point out that Office 365 will work with Word, Excel and Powerpoint – online and offline… something that Google Apps can offer (“Google Apps look primitive,” he says.) Ouch.
However, Nicholas Kolakowski on eWeek.com warns us that while Office 365 will compete head to head with Google Apps, Office 365 is not really a threat for Google – in fact, Microsoft is practically validating the model Google pioneered via its Google Apps. Office 365 could actually draw attention to Google Apps as an alternative.
So, in other words, if Office 365 screws things up, customers will surely go to Google Apps – at the expense of Microsoft.
All in all, Office 365 sparks interesting debates whether it is better than Google Apps or not; whether it can answer small business’ needs to work anywhere and anytime. It has certainly made the news this week.