For Microsoft's latest version of its Office suite, the company is betting big that making documents accessible across multiple devices, a cleaned-up design and improved collaboration features will keep the product relevant to today's users.
When Microsoft executives envision the company's future, they see record-setting sales and profits from exciting new products. But when Wall Street gazes into Microsoft's future, many potential investors seem to see only a blue screen of death.
Significantly increasing the utility and competitiveness of its Web-based e-mail service, Google is enabling an experimental ability to read, write, and search Gmail messages even while not connected to the network.
What happens when a business throws out its scheduling and collaboration tools and replaces them with Google's low-cost, online business software? To find out, we at Blumsday migrated our entire shop of roughly a dozen employees and contractors to test out Google Apps.
Steve Skinner, the head of information technology for a big Bay Area real estate agency, recently got his umpteenth call from Google. Would Skinner be interested in buying a package of e-mail, word processing and other software known as Google Apps for his company's 1,300 employees?
As Google's CEO, one of Eric Schmidt's duties is to represent the company in public. Co-presidents and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin limit their appearances, presumably because they value their privacy, but also because they seem to prefer it that way. Less time glad-handing means more time thinking big thoughts, working with their fellow Google engineers and, frankly, kitesurfing and other recreational activities.
How's this for irony? Choosing the software that's supposed to make our work lives easier is becoming horribly complex. Market hegemon Microsoft recently unleashed its most impressive riffs yet on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the rest, packaged as Office 2007 and built for the new Vista operating system. Meanwhile, Internet search-giant Google has come to market with a reliable and low-cost suite of web-based tools: word processing, spreadsheets, calendar, e-mail, and more, all packaged as Google Apps.
Let us quickly review the technology set-up for the average small business: Make a quick trip to Staples, get a PC and call over to the phone company. But not so fast. These days, choice rules. New Web-based office and telephony tools and wireless data services are rocking the once-simple tech universe of the small business.