I’d avoided posting about Microsoft’s latest offering, Albany, because there is really not much anyone in the SaaS world can find to say about it…. I can’t resist however so here goes.

Basically it seems that Albany is a way to derive some revenue out of existing products that aren’t doing so well. There are a few “innovations” –  Microsoft has changed the pricing model (suggestions are that it’ll be a $12 month service), and they’re building some kind of wrapper whereby users can have a one click set up of their product (although it’s not an ERP system they’re selling here, just how many clicks are needed to set up Zoho or Google apps anyway?).

The other “value-add” is that along with the subscription, users have the right to download later versions of the bloat software as they become available, the fact that Office tends to release cycle only once or twice a decade kind of leads me to say that up to date office productivity software isn’t a huge issue for most users. Add to that the fact that already MS office includes about 10 times the functionality that most users need and you’ve got a feature of very dubious benefit.

The bottom line (and something that MS strategists should really point out to those making these product decisions) is as follows;

  • Those who need all of Office’s super functionality will continue to use top shelf versions of MS office (read enterprise users)
  • Those who need a lightweight, simple and cheap alternative will use just that – Google apps, Zoho or one of the other offerings – Albany is neither lightweight, simple nor cheap, an unfortunate trifecta

I know Microsoft’s strategy is one of software + services and they’ll argue that Albany is just that – but it feels like a service offering that is there simply to fit into the S+S moniker – not for any real reasons…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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