Monday, July 20, 2009

Bet on Office Web Apps Over Google Apps, Analyst Says

Microsoft may have had its hand forced by Web-based alternatives, but the software giant will deliver a free Web version of Office, called Office Web Apps, that will launch in tandem with the paid, desktop version of Office 2010, which is in technical preview now and due to launch in the first half of next year.
With both online (Office Web Apps) and offline (Office 2010) versions of Office forthcoming, Microsoft seemingly has all the bases covered: a new, feature-rich desktop productivity suite and a lightweight online version to compete with emerging Web-based free alternatives such as Google Docs and the Zoho suite.

Slideshow: A Visual Overview of Office 2010

But Microsoft is also in a challenging position where it must avoid cannibalizing sales of its own lucrative desktop productivity suite ($20 billion in revenue forecasted for 2009), yet not lose out to online alternatives.

Sheri McLeish, analyst at Forrester Research, says that Microsoft's expansion of Office will be good for the industry and provide Microsoft with a worthy one-two punch.

"If we didn't have these free alternatives from Google and Zoho, surely Microsoft would not be doing this," says McLeish. "But all the competition in the productivity tools space benefits businesses and consumers."

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