Recently I was sent a link to some survey results from BetterCloud. BetterCloud is a company making management and security tools for Google Apps – they recently raised $5M in venture funding and have tools deployed across 15000 companies and six million users. Anyway – BetterCloud often runs surveys on its customer base to get an idea of current and future trends. Obviously the results tend to be Google-centric, the company is a Google Apps partner after all, but one statistic from their recent survey grabbed my attention.

When asked how they would characterize their organization’s strategy towards using and supporting Microsoft Office products, there is an increasingly large number of organizations actively looking to minimize their investment in Microsoft Office. When one considers that Microsoft Office has been the dominant office productivity suite since it was released in 1990 – that is of real worry to Redmond.

60% of Google Apps customers are minimizing further investment in MS Office, further it seems that the longer customers have been with Google Apps, the less likely they are to continue investing in MS Office licenses – 64% of respondents who have been on Google Apps for 2+ years said that they are minimizing further investment in MS Office.

ms threatened

In his analysis of the results, BetterCloud CEO David Politis said that he felt there are several factors contributing to the declining investment in and lack of reliance on MS Office:

  • Adoption – broader adoption of the Google Apps suite is eliminating the need for similar software outside of Google
  • Compatibility – Google continues to improve compatibility between MS Office products (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, meaning users can do business with an organization still operating on MS Office without having to use Office themselves
  • There is a generational shift occurring – as educational institutions continue to adopt Google Apps, the proportion of young people familiar with MS Office continues to decline. According to Politis a new generation is “growing up Google” and will want to use software they’re familiar with when they enter the workforce.


Of course in his analysis, Politis omits to make any mention of Office 365, the launch of the more subscription friendly and web-savvy Office 2013 and the benefits that Microsoft’s acquisition and eventual integration of enterprise social software Yammer might have on enterprises’ willingness to continue using Microsoft products. It’s undeniable that Microsoft has matured significantly in the past few years since it disputed the validity of cloud completely and continues to push its “software plus services” approach. Those days have gone and a very different Microsoft exists today. I suspect this trend of moving away from Office will slow as the company further advances its cloud thinking – tools like CloudOn that give users of Office the ability to use the product on iOS devices will further reinforce the Office franchise.

The bottom line is that, until recently, organizations that wanted to empower their employees with a mobile ready office productivity suite were poorly served by Office – they had little option but to look to other vendors. Those days have gone and Office is gradually becoming a compelling web product – if you’re a Microsoft shop already, you’ll think twice about migrating off Office if it meets your needs – both on-premise and mobile.

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.

  • Well, Office 365 tied to Office 2013 may improve Microsoft’s Office stickiness with legacy users and prevent some defections to less costly, but good enough SaaS offerings from Google, Zoho and others. The question for Microsoft is whether younger generations will feel any loyalty to Microsoft Office delivered in any format. One way to guarantee that they won’t is to continue the license/subscription insanity of Office 365 and Office 2013. Nobody needs 8 or 11 different licensing permutations and prices from Microsoft. So, will Office be around in some form going forward? Yes, but it may no longer be considered “standard issue” for knowledge workers as it once was. Those days are fading fast and Microsoft seems to understand this.

  • We’ve obviously been keeping a close eye on 365 but I think that the underlying problem that Microsoft has (something Tim mentioned in his comment) is that the younger generation is more comfortable/familiar/excited about Google technology. It may take 10 years, but the generation of people who have graduated recently and the new crop of graduates are using Google Apps at school or they use gmail and forward their school email there. They come into the workforce and they want to use Google products that they’re used to. It’s the generational shift that is really going to hurt Microsoft

  • BetterCloud could be a perfect growing company, but I would say that the one in charge of doing this research is not as smart as it should. Microsoft is offering Office365 since more than a year and since Office 2013 joined the Office365 package things are even better. As Mike said before Office365 is 100% compatible with Office files (not arguable at all, that those files are the standard) so why would someone compare Google Apps with Microsoft Office when Microsoft is going deep into Office365 (and not Office) offering as one of the key products.
    I would say that since Office365 is in the business Google might need to do something not to loose against Office365 all they get in these past year against Office.

  • Matthew Kaddatz |

    I have been using Google Apps since they came out but they still are not up to par. Microsoft Word and Excel so much better and feature rich. Even Office 365 seems to work better and is more secure than Google Apps. If you want to collaborate on a simple document Google Apps is great. If you want to do anything other than simple, it doesn’t work.

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