From Cloud Arena, the bell has just rung signifying the next round of the Microsoft (News - Alert) vs. Google battle. This time, it is Microsoft which comes out swinging, announcing it is doing away with OneDrive cloud storage limits for its Office 365 customers—further evidence that storage has become nearly a commodity (sorry, Dropbox (News - Alert)).
It’s turning into an interesting battle, with each seemingly targeting its weaker user base. Google Apps is clearly targeting the business user, with $5 and $10 per user per month plans that include 30GB and 1TB of storage respectively (up to five users on the $10 plan; at six users storage capacity becomes unlimited). This is also the user group in which Google (News - Alert) must grow market share, if it intends on being a serious player.
Microsoft already has a strong business customer base and brand strength with its Windows and Office platforms and, despite the disaster that was the original Windows 8 launch, it is seemingly overcoming that with the Surface 3, which is as close to a laptop replacement as anyone has come. It also has a strong legacy business with Office and Windows users and, even those who might otherwise migrate to alternative options will be challenged to find a suite more integrated and feature-rich than Office. But despite its historical dominance in the corporate space, Microsoft had little choice but to follow Google’s lead into the cloud, launching Office 365, a cloud-based version of its Office Suite. But, if you look at its current pricing, it’s clearly geared to attract the individual and home user. The “Home” version, in fact, is easily the best deal – at $100 for the annual license ($10 per month if not prepaid), users can activate five Windows/Apple PCs or notebooks, five tablets, and access documents from any smartphone. The package includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher – as well as 60 minutes of monthly Skype (News - Alert) calling, and soon to be implemented, unlimited OneDrive space.
So, what’s the big deal, if Microsoft already has the brand recognition with Office in the enterprise? Between its now unlimited storage capacity, pricing model, suite of applications, and ability to work with any mobile operating system, Microsoft eliminates any advantage Google (via Android (News - Alert)) or Dropbox may have built.
It will take some time for uses to migrate to the latest version of Office 365 – users aren’t going to outlay the cash for a new version unless they need new features or perhaps want to add users – so Google has time to recover and throw its next punch. But for now, it appears Microsoft has landed major blow, especially as more and more people start to realize the convenience of the cloud. Frankly, at just over $8 per month (that’s a mere $2 per month per user for a family of four) for access to the full Office suite and unlimited storage, there’s no real reason to avoid the cloud experience.
Edited by Maurice Nagle