The Return of Microsoft Office – Appearing Everywhere

Microsoft Office – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook. You use it on a Windows PC to do work on files on your PC, if you were brave you might also use it on your Mac, but that was that.

Well, at least that’s how it was, in 2012;  the world was changing though:

  • The Windows PC was moving out of the centre of people’s day-to-day experience being replaced by various mobile devices running Android and iOS.
  • Multiple cloud data stores where emerging and becoming popular – Dropbox, Box, etc.
  • Organisations were increasing collaboration outside the traditional organisation boundaries. The corporate WAN was no longer the primary focus.
  • Bring Your Own (BYO) was becoming a normal way of working.
  • Apple Mac’s were re-entering the corporate eco-system, partially driven by a desire to get some relief from overly prescriptive corporate control of the IT environment.
  • Cloud services for email and communications were becoming the norm giving massive amounts of inbox storage.

The result was that Microsoft Office was increasingly a bit-part player in people’s personal and corporate knowledge management infrastructure.

Then came the big switch to “mobile-first, cloud-first” and a set of strategic plays by Microsoft to replant Microsoft Office back at the centre.

History has shown that Microsoft is pretty good at these big switches.

First came the release of Office for iOS and Android, initially for Office 365 customers and then for everyone – free. Including OneNote and integration with Lync, and OneDrive for Business.

Secondly comes the co-opting of the other storage services, starting with Dropbox. Now you can store your Office files directly into Dropbox on your mobile device; also you can edit your office file directly in Dropbox through the browser.

Extending OneDrive for Business even further Microsoft releases a client for OS-X and provides an integrated personal and business experience on iOS, having previously made the same integrated experience available for Android.

Then Microsoft extends the attractiveness of OneDrive (personal) by giving away 100GB (for 2 years) to existing Dropbox customers.

Recognising that their mobile applications for mail and calendar aren’t the market leaders Microsoft purchase what some regard as the market leaders. They then, in rapid time, re-brand the Outlook app and release it to the market.

Then Microsoft co-opts another set of storage services including iCloud, Box, Citrix and Salesforce. Citrix, Salesforce and Box are particularly interesting because they target their storage services at enterprise customers.  The reach of the Microsoft Office eco-system extends.

Looking to make sure that the next generation of workers regard Microsoft Office as the natural way to do business Microsoft makes Office 365 Personal available, for free, to students globally. This includes 1TB of OneDrive storage, so why would you even think about using Dropbox with its tiny storage allocation.

Notice how they’ve done all of this without the need for slow corporations to deploy and adopt large packaged applications. In essence, they’ve left those lumbering giants behind leaving them to catch up in their own time.

The simple reality is that there are now millions of people who, again, interact with Microsoft Office all day every day. Microsoft Office is making a return to the centre of people’s personal and corporate knowledge management and productivity eco-system. Microsoft is able to do this without the need for millions of slow-moving corporate IT organisations to do anything. Microsoft get to control their own destiny and to move at cloud speeds.

Like I said, history shows that Microsoft is pretty good at these switches.

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