I started using Google Docs and Oracle Open Office since 4 years, Microsoft’s Office software is under attack since then from these free alternatives. I don’t rule out that, I don’t use MS Office anymore. I am still a big fan of MS Office because of its user ease, features and feel factor of products. Although Microsoft has responded to these alternatives in 2010 with Microsoft Live, a free version of cloud office, perhaps it waited too long. There is no surprise for this wait, as its office applications business has long enjoyed a near monopoly and has been profitable. It is seen that their customer’s apart from price sensitive users(such as college students) have not flocked to the free products. This is due to some reasons such as incompatibility of files, minimal functions availability (I faced it several times while using Google docs) and the need to teach users or employees the usage of applications.
Has the Microsoft has erred in not considering the price sensitive users? perhaps yes, the growth use of free alternatives has gone up from 4 % to 20 % since last five years. For example, free Google App users have increased from 7 million to 10 million in the past two years and about 3 million small business users and some large institutes as well in USA. This can be a serious threat to Microsoft, with the improvement from free alternatives that is attractive for new users, youth and price sensitive users.
One has to see if the Microsoft Live will be effective in countering the offerings of their competitors? The present limitations are – unlike Open Office, it doesn’t offer an option to download to individual computer and non-aggressive nature of marketing it product, hence its still not as popular as Google docs.
We live with several questions ponder over and discuss –
1.Does all this indicate that, Microsoft’s half heart response? 2.Does it want the customer not to switch over to free alternatives?
3.Will Microsoft prevent free-product competitors from expanding their foot hold?
4.Will their customer of business and power home remain loyal?