Microsoft Office: Troubled times ahead?

By Michael Levy
February 28, 2003

One of the most popular office software, Microsoft Office, has been the standard for companies to do their work on. Whether it is spreadsheets, documents or even presentations, MS Office was the only tool that was widely accepted.

There is the competition like Corel Office Suite, but they have gained very little popularity because of fear of compatibility issues. Let.s face it you spend 3 hours working on something and you do not want to take the chance of your hard work not displaying properly at the computers at work.This is one of the reasons why people bought MS Office as well. They can integrate their home time (to catch up with their work) and work life so that maybe the next day they don.t have to stay in late to finish off something.

MS Office is the biggest revenue earning product for Microsoft. Over 60% of revenue comes from this one product, unbeknownst to most people who think that the company makes its money from selling its popular Windows operating system. This product has the widest user acceptance from companies, governments and schools. With the recent outcry of governments and other societies that once depended on this product are now dropping it. But why is this happening?

This is quite simple. Just recently the Israeli government decided not to purchase upgrades for MS Office, and now are relying on the cheaper, yet free, Open Office. This is the starting point of changing times. Governments and probably schools are trying to look for much cheaper alternatives to this once mighty office product. Yes there are tons of features that are not given in other products like Star Office or Corel Office Suite, but is there really a need to upgrade?

With open source (Open Office is based on Star Office) products becoming very popular, or even cheaper office suites, Star Office by Sun Microsystems, it has become a decision of whether to save the tens of thousands of dollars in purchasing the upgrade for a company, or try out a free or cheaper product that can do all the work with very little or no compatibility problems.

Startup companies, schools, home offices and what not always have the resources to purchase this expensive software, let.s face it it.s a major decision to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on software. This is where open source software or cheaper alternatives get into play.

Open Office is gaining in popularity because of its free price tag. It can open all Word files, Excel files and what not and because of this compatibility, this is one piece of lucrative software that saves everyone money.

If governments, and big corporations start turning away from MS Office, their sales will drop quite dramatically. Free software alternatives are gaining in popularity in the EU and now in Israel. If it does the job and you do not need all the bells and whistles, why throw money away? Although Open Office is free, there is no technical support offered thus the reason why for the free price tag. If your company wants support then they will have to purchase Star Office.

It seems this year will be quite an interesting one as people are moving away from high priced software and are going for the cheaper or free alternatives. Would this have an impact on the economy? How will this affect other developers? Only time will tell whether this free products is just a fad or it is becoming a gloomy reality to Microsoft.