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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 10:18 AM   #1
 
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The future of MS Office for Mac

So, given the release of iWork, how long to you figure it's going to take Microsoft to decide to pull Office for Mac? Or do you think they'll keep producing it?

(I think it will happen, and sooner rather than later. First, remember what happened with IE and Safari - though, in fairness, that one had been coming for a little while. Second, I get the feeling that Apple is rapidly going to start moving in Microsoft's hive mind from "annoyance / source of cool ideas" to "threat." And we know how they react to anything that threatens them...
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 11:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GORDOOM
So, given the release of iWork, how long to you figure it's going to take Microsoft to decide to pull Office for Mac? Or do you think they'll keep producing it?

They'll keep updating and selling it as long as it's a money-maker; I don't see that changing for a long time yet, especially if significant numbers of corporate switchers come on board. Just regular switchers should drive significant sales.

And for anyone who has clients or colleagues who use Office, iWork is a long, long way from being an Office-killer, IMO.

Another possibility is that MS will kill Mac Office and push VPC with Windows Office. I actually find this more plausible than the complete disappearance of Microsoft from the Mac, although performance issues will keep it unlikely for a while. Regardless, I think MS will remain a strong player in the Mac market for a long time to come.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 01:08 PM   #3
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I think that MS has invested a lot in MS Office Mac, so will keep it going. To be fair, for a Microsoft team, the Office people are quite good. I think there is going to be some serious competition, which Apple will of course state is "friendly". This is the reason that Apple is using (in part) the .doc format so they can still win from the underdog position, they don't have to convince people to use a new format on top of the interface change.

Though I know that Apple win, because MS doesn't seem to be able to innovate on the PC apps anymore (they seem more concerned with media centres and the like); it will take a few years before we see the end of MS Office Mac.

This shows how Apple is being really creative with the same types of applications that have existed for a long time now, while MS throttles down development because they fail to see where to go next.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 01:40 PM   #4
 
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Originally Posted by iMatt, on the subject of Microsoft Office's future on the Mac
They'll keep updating and selling it as long as it's a money-maker; I don't see that changing for a long time yet, especially if significant numbers of corporate switchers come on board. Just regular switchers should drive significant sales.
The thing is, I don't think that's the main factor.

Consider: Apple releases an application suite that serves (roughly) the same purpose as Microsoft Office, is "good enough" for most users, and is far better than Office in terms of usability. And it's capable of reading and writing Office file formats (albeit probably not perfectly). At the same time, Apple releases a computer perfectly designed and priced for people who want to try out a Mac and see what it's like, at a time when popular frustration with Microsoft and its products is at an all-time high. If this works - and I think it will - the end result will be a lot of people ditching both Windows and Office altogether.

This creates a huge problem for Microsoft. First, the more people who don't run Windows or use Office, the less control Microsoft has over the de facto standard formats and such used in the computer world. Second, Microsoft's main source of revenue is sales of Windows and of Office - and the main reason they can charge what they do for licences is because people don't have, or don't think they have, other options. Interfere with that, and Microsoft's revenue stream starts to dry up.

This has already started happening to some extent, between Apple's revival of the last five years and the growing momentum behind Free Software projects such as Linux and Mozilla/Firefox. But Linux and OpenOffice.org still "aren't there yet" on the desktop, at least insofar as the average user's needs are concerned. And Apple's hardware offerings, while of decent quality and not exorbitantly priced, were structured in such a way as to make the cost of switching somewhat prohibitive for the average computer user.

Were. Until yesterday.

Now, Apple has a basic desktop Mac priced cheaply enough that it almost falls into "impulse buy" territory (assuming you already have keyboard/mouse/monitor), running an operating system that is, if anything, better from a usability perspective than Microsoft Windows. At the same time, it distributes with these systems a productivity suite better suited to most casual users that Microsoft Office - and you can bet your behind that interoperability between iWork and OpenOffice.org will be far better than interoperability between MS Office and OpenOffice.org, which can only help both suites gain acceptance in the market. This combination has the potential to damage Microsoft's position in its core market, and Microsoft cannot afford to let that happen.

For this reason, I strongly suspect that Microsoft will decide that Apple is too much of a potential threat to them for them to leave alone - better to try to squash them now before they start gaining momentum. Certainly, Microsoft has shown in the past that they are willing to axe profitable business units, to take losses in key strategic markets, in order better to entrench their position. If they were to announce today that software development for the Mac OS was being discontinued, this would be seen by the popular press as a grave blow to Apple, and much of what they gained yesterday in terms of momentum would be lost. If this were combined with a further deprecation of the legacy Office file formats in the next version of Office for Windows, Apple's position could be gravely endangered, as Mac users would lose much of their ability to interoperate with the Windows world.

I've suspected that a move of this sort was coming ever since the release of Office 2004 for Mac, which does not incorporate support for most of Office's new XML-based file formats. Now, with the release of iWork and the Mac mini, Apple poses a greater threat to Microsoft than ever.

I am, of course, speculating here; if I am proven wrong, I will freely admit that I am wrong. Time alone will tell.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #5
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iWork is for home and school, and anyone who just needs those features. Office is for the office.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 02:07 PM   #6
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Well, Gordoom, you make an interesting case but I have to disagree. Unless and until the Mac and iWork (with a spreadsheet module) see a minimum 10%+ share, I don't think we need to seriously worry (or hope) that Microsoft will walk away from the Mac platform. From where I sit, iWork is an upstart office suite that <i>might</i> one day compete with Office; for now, it's a still-incomplete replacement for AppleWorks.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 02:30 PM   #7
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For what it's worth, we don't use MS office in our offices, at all, period. Just too expensive, and it doesn't do anything that we can't get done elsewhere cheaper.

We have only one Windows user, and she has some free office software, Openoffice or Staroffice or something like that. The rest of us are using Appleworks. When I first saw iWork I was intrigued, but I do require the spreadsheet functionality. And, having just bought Keynote about 2 months ago, we're set for a presentation app for now too.

I'll keep an eye on iWork, and when/if a spreadsheet is incorporated, maybe then we'll pick up a copy and see how it goes. Till then, we're happy with Appleworks, and I just can't see us ever being able to justify the $$ of MS Office.

-Stephanie
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 02:38 PM   #8
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I don't see MS-Office for the Mac dying out anytime soon - that would be like Windows dying. After all MS-Office is the standard. Everybody passes info around in MS-Word or Excel. I haven't looked at Appleworks or iWork, but I assume their probably equivalent to what MS-Works was. Okay for the basics.

As for it being expensive, the only big expense is the initial one, the updates are cheap.
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 03:51 PM   #9
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I'm not sure windows+office is as a big a deal to Microsoft as we think

I think MS has gone as far as they can with Office (perhaps too far) and, while they are happy to continue raking in cash with it for the time being, their attention has moved on to the 'Next Big Thing.'

Chairman Bill has, probably correctly, identified TNBT as digital media (music, movies, games, etc.) and communications (VoIP, video chatting, IM, etc.), and is positioning Microsoft to control those markets.

I suspect that the iTMS, QuickTime and Open Standards (like H.264 in particular) are of much greater concern to Microsoft than iWork.

Microsoft has dominated the desktop and the productivity suite market for long enough to see that it's not going to grow much more, and it may soon become irrelevant in the larger scheme. That doesn't mean that they'd hesitate to discontinue Office for X if they thought it'd be a strategically useful move, but I think they'd rather not risk unnecessary anti-trust exposure while they're busy trying to convince governments and other regulatory agencies that they should be allowed to embed palladium and their proprietary formats into international communications infrastructures.

My bet is they'll play the nice guy, claim to be good corporate citizens that have learned their lesson, and continue trying to take over the world while everyone is looking in the wrong direction.

Cheers
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Old Jan 12th, 2005, 04:59 PM   #10
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love it or hate it

Office lives on my G4 and iBook. I need to be able to send excel and word files to the office. There is no way anyone there would "convert" from a Mac file. And there is too much data and customization to be confident that something would not be lost in the translation.

Mind you, I'm still pissed at Corel for abandoing WP Mac.
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