microsoft spin machine in action (watch out for the suds)

A few days ago Google announced that they were going to start distributing StarOffice and

Don Dodge is at it again…

What has changed? Star Office has been around for 8 years and has gained no traction. Sun even made it available for free as open source in the form of OpenOffice. That was 7 years ago. Google will be distributing the same StarOffice that Sun now sells for $70, and OpenOffice distributes for free. Oh, BTW, StarOffice is a 200Mb download…or more depending on your OS. [Reality check Don … how big is Office 2007?]

Why can these PR types ever admit that there is anything to another company’s moves? This is a spin machine answer — it is totally dismissive of this move and completely ignoring what Google is really doing. Google is taking their warchest which is equal to Microsoft and going directly after Microsoft’s cash cow. Google doesn’t have to win this fight – all they have to do is force Microsoft to cut its price and the bleeding will start and never stop. Microsoft while not fading away will certainly take another significant cut in significance.

The good folks over at CNet have it right:

The student version of Microsoft Office runs about $150 per user–and that’s just for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Google Apps Premier Edition costs about one-third of that, and you get some additional market-proven and reliable collaboration tools like Gmail and Google Talk from a vendor that enjoys tremendous mindshare, good will and mystique. The Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Full Version retails for about $500 per user. You would have to run Google Apps Premier Edition for more than 10 years to make Office a better value.

Don Dodge’s answer:

Microsoft Works is now available for free. Microsoft Works is a fully functional office suite that has shipped on home edition personal computers for years. It compares favorably with any of the new Web 2.0 office competitors.

Sorry Don! Microsoft Works is not ‘free’ it requires Windows! Free is no strings attached. And Windows is not cheap either. And wait a second? You were comparing Google’s offerings to Microsoft’s Office application not MS Works… I sense a bit of a bait and switch.

Back to CNet:

Grill information workplace platform vendors. There’s no reason to run from Microsoft or IBM, just yet, but turn your attention to these two vendors and ask: “OK, so when are you going to offer office productivity software-as-a-service? Or office productivity tools at a price like this?”

Don’s answer for Microsoft is the typical forward-thinking, we-got-a-vision-just-no-product answer:

Software + Services – Microsoft has been working hard to leverage the best of client software and web based services into one seamless user experience. Users want to take advantage of the computing power on the desktop for compute intensive tasks like creating large documents and spreadsheets, multimedia presentations, and video editing. There are other times when you want a more lightweight, collaborative, and interactive environment where a web browser is a better choice. Why not create on the desktop and share on the web? Why not collaborate and edit documents on the web and save the changes back to your desktop?

Lots of great questions … where is the f*ing software? Oh wait, this is what Bill was saying in 2002:

gave Microsoft a grade of “C” for developing what he termed “building-block services” and for making the software-as-a-service concept a reality.

Gates said parts of the software-as-a-service concept are in place in the company’s Hotmail e-mail service. But “a lot is still to be done there,” he said.

Bill Gates in 2005:

Bill Gates pushing Microsoft toward software-as-a-service

The Wall Street Journal has released excerpts from internal Microsoft correspondence in which Bill Gates is calling on Microsoft to jump with both feet into the trend toward software applications being delivered as a service over the Internet.

Whether referred to as Internet services, software-as-a-service (SaaS), or software on-demand, the idea is the same: instead of buying and installing software applications, users simply access such apps over a network. There’s no software to buy. Instead, the application is either paid for on a subscription basis or supported by a third party, such as advertisers.

And now we have Don in 2007….

Creating a great user experience that is intuitive yet powerful, available online and offline, and synchronized across all domains, is the goal of Software + Services. There is lots of work left to do, but that is the direction.

Sounds like what Google is delivering today….while Microsoft still can’t deliver. Maybe Sharepoint is a great thing but from what I hear it is a big intensive, heavy-commitment-required kind of application — which is exactly the opposite of SaaS solutions.

Its funny – microsoft used to make their money on the small companies .. looks like they are trying to be another (failed) enterprise application developer and forgot their roots.

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One Response to microsoft spin machine in action (watch out for the suds)

  1. patrick says:

    My comments over at Don’s site:

    Nice thoughts but as I point in my own blog … Bill Gates has been promising real-soon-now on the SaaS line for over 5 years.

    Also you do a bait and switch. You compare Google Apps with Office 2007 when it comes to features and to Microsoft Works when it comes to price. Lets see you compare Google Apps to MS Works on features as well.

    Sad reality here Don — no one in the valley wants to be brought by Microsoft any more.

    You know when there was that buzz about Microsoft buying Yahoo earlier this year? I talked to a person from Yahoo! HR about that. She said there is no way it was going to happen, half of Yahoo would quit the next day.

    The days of microsoft being able to buy their way back from mistakes are dwindling if companies can’t guarantee to microsoft that the engineers are going to stay.

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