Microsoft and Office 15: It’s Not Here, and It’s Not Quite Cloud, But It is a Good Step
This week, Microsoft partially unveiled the up-and-coming Office 15 business productivity suite, showing off its Cloud chops and added social (Yammer) and VOIP (Skype) capabilities. The full functionality, feature set, availability timeframe, and pricing were not released. But what we saw was encouraging, from the touch-screen capability to the Cloud-based doc storage. What was most encouraging was the fact that this positioning of Office as a Cloud-friendly business suite seemed to show that Microsoft really is “all in” when it comes to Cloud.
But it also showed how Microsoft’s approach to Cloud for its apps is still well behind most other ISVs right now. Yes, the company has enabled significant and solid Cloud-based functionality with Office 15. But it also has pursued an approach similar to the old ASP model, layering/adding Cloud interface capability to a traditionally-architected application built on limiting technologies.
As such, what Microsoft has delivered illustrates the conundrum facing many legacy ISVs when it comes to Cloud: How to simultaneously protect the base that is slow to change, while retaining the base that embraces change. In this way, Office 15 is a great example of the “innovators dilemma” – continuing to move forward while deliberately avoiding anything that might disturb the installed base.
To compete and thrive against Google and other pure-play Cloud business solutions and suites – with optimally-associated storage, socialization, and other services – Microsoft needs to re-think and re-architect the core Office structure. We believe it has about three years in which to accomplish this, and even then, we can see Google grabbing 10 percent or more of Microsoft’s current Office customer base.
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