Office 2010 launch – what a bad dream that was!

Basil_fawlty There will be quite enough comment on the iPad without me wanting to add any more to that particular bonfire. It was rather like a prize fight with the Kindle coming off not particularly well. And Intel must be smarting this morning. But the bodyblow I thought was to Microsoft now gearing up for its Office 10 outing. As Apple offering the 3 main apps of iWork for $10 apiece. Turning what was starting to look like an overpriced media reader into a productivity tool for the 21st century.

Its a great example of perception. Let's be clear here. The volumes of iPad sales and nature of iPad usage aren't going to make the flicker of a dent into Office 10 sales. Not to start with. But the perception is that the Microsoft gorilla has just sat there with this application for years and never really moved on with it. Last time I worked on Microsoft they were carrying tablet PCs around the Reading office and telling anybody who would listen that it was the future. But it wasn't. Great for developers to demo their code to their mates. But pointless as an office application because Office hadn't changed enough.

Seeing iwork offered at such a price made me go to the Office website to see what kinds of functionality were available. And for what price. As a business user it would cost me £250 to upgrade. I tried to find out how many machines that would cover but that proved impossible to find out. I strongly suspect just the one.  Which leaves me with a bill of about £1000 to upgrade the various laptops sitting around the house.

Office2007 I had the embarassment earlier this year of having a student blink at my copy of Office and ask me if I was still on Office 2003. I hadn't the heart to tell him I was still on Office 2000 because it worked perfectly well and I didn't need to worry about it locking into only one machine – the last version it was possible to do so.  Microsoft will continue to generate revenue stream but they have long ago lost the battle of hearts. Windows 7 was my idea? Of course it wasn't. And yet the copy of Office I bought in 2000 was the one with all the trimmings. I attended the launch for goodness sake. Corporate brands who don't pay attention to their users get into trouble. It takes longer because of the inertia. And the decision making is concentrated among professionals. But with one OS failure and with a core package which is vastly overpriced for what it delivers Microsoft is looking exposed. It won't go bust. But it isn't growing either. And Apple's growth figures are a reminder that just as the web is fracturing OS platforms will continue to fracture in the same way. And cloud computing is just around the corner. Every Java upgrade comes with an offer of their office product. And google is waiting patiently in the wings. But with users being able to move data seamlessly between all of them Microsoft may be an acceptable share to own. But not a product you'd be proud to own.

Can they change? Of course they can. The worry is that they don't seem to be trying.  Apparently they have until June to change our minds.



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