Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Sheri-McLeish by Sheri McLeish

Sequels never can match the thrill of the original. But the good ones offer a compelling story of their own, develop familiar characters, and introduce something new and exciting. Last week Microsoft gave developers a backstage pass to preview Office 2010, due out in the first half of next year. The drama unfolds with Microsoft and Google waging a multi-front war with each other in search, browsers, productivity tools, and, soon, operating systems. Glimpses of the fourteenth iteration of Office reveal Web-based lightweight apps along with capabilities geared at improving collaboration, multimedia content development, and email management.

Can Office 2010 save the franchise? Or will a simpler, better customer experience from Google draw in a bigger audience before next summer? And what does it mean for the bit players, independents, and sleepers like the Open Office suites from IBM/Lotus, Novell, and Sun, or for Adobe, Zoho, Thinkfree, Corel … that’s a lot of competition for a sluggish software market that Forrester sees as being down by 5% or more for the year.  The glimmer of hope for software vendors will likely come from subscriptions revenue for software-as-a-service (SaaS) products in 2010, which Forrester projects to grow by 7.5%.

Microsoft wants to lead that growing SaaS market. For enterprises, what’s notable about the Office 2010 story is that Office Web apps can be on-premise or hosted. The lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote will be free for consumers through Windows Live. Pow! But the bigger deal for enterprises is the option to host Office Web apps on-premises as annuity customers as well as via a hosted subscription through Microsoft Online Services. This option isn’t offered by Google today and, for the moment, may be what makes Office Web apps a hit in the enterprise.

To date, Microsoft’s dominance in large businesses remains mostly intact, with 57% of firms running Office 2007 and 80% supporting some version of Office.  Combined, the alternatives make up less than 8% of the enterprise market, according to Forrester’s March 2009 North America, Europe, And Asia Pacific Desktop Innovation Online Survey. And of those Forrester surveyed, 78% said they have no plans to look for an alternative to Microsoft Office. Real barriers remain for alternatives, from concerns about content control and security, sunk license costs, and online/offline issues for Web-based tools to fear of rejection by business users. Like it, love it, or not, people have a comfortable, familiar relationship with the Office apps. And that’s a critical edge Microsoft must maintain.

Technology Populism is fueling the collaboration and mobile collaboration markets and blurring the lines between work/life boundaries.  The influence of consumer experience can be equally powerful if harnessed by Google for email and productivity. Most enterprise IT departments rely on the feedback of their business users to measure the value of their productivity tools. Forrester data also shows upgrades generally driven by business demands (34%), because current tools are no longer supported (24%), are no longer compatible (16%), or because the culture demands it (15%). By promoting free access to Web-based tools, Microsoft seeks the sway of the public. Office 2000 ends support this month; Microsoft needs to get those firms on board with 2010 somehow. What will your firm do? What are your barriers to upgrading Office or moving to an alternative? Now is a good time to clarify your firm’s strategy, because 2010 looks like it could be a blockbuster year for buyers prepared to negotiate.

Comments

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Engaging piece and fair assessment of the productivity suite landscape. We hope the melding together of Office 2010 + Web Apps will lead to a blockbuster year!

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Most users we talk to are fully engaged in deploying Office 2007, dealing with issues such as file compatibility and the challenges file links present due to the new 4 and 5 character filename extensions. However, many have said that they are making the transition to Office 2007 and the new XML file formats now to make the upgrade to Office 2010 easier. Several also say that they expect significant benefits from the on-line versions of Office 2010 such as freeing virtual machines and saving diskspace, and easier upgrade management for the IT staff. Great article Sheri.

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

I really don’t like the new ribbon interface. Microsoft is shooting themselfs in the foot over this new creation.I still prefer free alternative office suites. There is no reason anymore to pay for an office suite these days. They have all the functionality that any general user may need.And to make things even better for alternative office suites is that they have not converted their interfaces to a ribbon mess.I tend to favour SSuite Office’s free office suites. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download, and their interfaces are no more than 3 levels deep. So you don’t need to hunt for that elusive function you need.Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, so it makes the software very small and efficient.http://www.ssuitesoft.com/index.htm

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Thank`s.

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Thank You.

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Hi Sheri - I liked your article and the commentary that came with the 152-companies research on MS Office usage.I believe MS is WAY infront of the competition, however, MS still struggles with showing the reall added value of their 2007 suite.A typical example is Bebob's comment, where "ribbon" is hated, however, as my experience of deploying the 2007 version among several big companies throughout the business users there shows, the ribbon and the new approach of GUI must be the single greatest innovation in the productivity suites in years and years. It's just you need to figure that new approach out, to realize the added value. If you don't, you better stick to the old guns and migrate to the other ones. The people who DO get it through appropriate (i.e. NOT microsoft tekkie-oriented) training, LOVE it and see real improvements in their productivity (and I have MEASURED this, yes).Now the question Sheri for you is, can you please share a particular information from your report with me?You were saying..."What's worse is those companies that do use Office alternatives are not all that satisfied. In a satisfaction section of the survey with a scale of one to five (five being "extremely satisfied"), 29 percent of those using Office alternatives reported a 2, and 43 percent reported a 3."Can you tell me what were the satisfaction results with the Office suites, in particular 2007 as compared to the 2003?Thank you in advance,peter at baloh dot net

re: Microsoft Office 2010: The Odyssey Continues

Thanks for your feedback. Great question - the satisfaction between Office 2007 and older versions at the lower end, meaning least satisfied, is roughly equivalent and just under 4% for each. Interestingly, at the higher levels of satisfaction,ratings of 4 or 5, Office 2007 users showed the highest satisfaction at 72% at these levels versus 64.6% for earlier Office versions. This would appear to support your perspective as well.