Is It the End of Office?
Say it isn’t so! Die hard Microsoft Office users may never imagine the day they aren’t using Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook, but just as all technology has evolved, so too has productivity software. Online sites with cloud capacity offer many, if not more, of the features of these traditional applications and are more nimble to boot.
Why Open Source Office Software Threatens MS Office
Microsoft might have written the book on office productivity software, but the cloud and the Internet are quickly rendering many of the applications in the MS Office suite obsolete. While Google Docs and Apache Office are most widely known, online versions are continually popping up, like SoftMaker, FreeOffice and Zoho Docs. All offer word processing, spreadsheets and presentation capabilities similar to Microsoft office, but with capabilities, such as:
- Being completely free to use, eliminating expensive purchase prices and per-user licensing fees
- Being accessible via the Internet and mobile devices for anywhere working
- Collaboration and sharing without emailing attachments
- Real-time updates so multiple people can be working on the same version of document.
Outlook and Exchange are becoming less relevant as well. Email can be exchanged and organized through countless online providers. Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud and dozens of other online options provide free email with plenty of storage, spam filtering and mobile access.
Individuals, small businesses, start-ups and non-profit organizations are likely the biggest benefactors of these free, robust applications so far. It may take longer for larger organizations who have already invested heavily in the Microsoft software to jump on board and power users of Excel may be slow to change, but as the nature of work evolves, so too will the applications used to support it.
High-Growth Occupations Require Communication, Integration and Presentation Skills
Online office versions appear to overtake Microsoft Office, but one study finds the end hasn’t come…yet. In a recent white paper commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and released by IDC (“Skill Requirements for Tomorrow’s Best Jobs: Helping Educators Provide Students with Skills and Tools They Need”), the only software package called out within the top 20 skills across all occupations is Microsoft Office. It found Microsoft Office to be No. 3 on the list of skills most required, and Microsoft PowerPoint and Word are No. 11 and No.13 most required skills.
Even so, Microsoft recognizes the need to get on the cloud bandwagon. They are actively responding to these market threats by moving to a cloud-based subscription model with Office 365. The product provides business-class email, shared calendars, instant messaging, online conferencing and access to real-time documents – all delivered as a cloud service. Just this week, Microsoft announced its partnership with GoDaddy to offer Office 365 as GoDaddy’s exclusive core business-class email and productivity service to its small business customers.
So while the conventional Microsoft Suite we grew to love (or hate) may still be the standard, the growing tech-savvy consumers are finding alternatives to the inherently limited software. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email services remain relevant, but how people access and utilize them continues to unfold. Clippy is even being rethought for the cloud.