A recent discussion on RWW got a number of people hot under the collar. To summarise, a post was written detailing why the author believed that Google apps was a serious threat to Microsoft office. In a fairly vitriolic response, a commenter left a message titled “Google Docs is full of fail”. His litany of alleged shortcoming for GDocs were mainly functionality ones – apparently GDocs doesn’t do what he needs it to, things that MS Office does. We have, dear audience, a debate on our hands. To this end here follows my thoughts;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our previous correspondent told us that Google docs is full of fail. While his grammar would suggest otherwise, the substance of his comment deserves response. Without wanting to mix metaphors here, I think we have a combination both of failing to compare apples with apples, and not seeing the wood for the trees.
Apples with Apples
Google docs is a very new offering that is trying to primarily be a collaborative tool. Contrary to what the previous comments would have you believe, it doesn’t intend to recreate MS Office in all its bloated functionality, rather it seeks to create a quick, intuitive and easily utilised offering. It is also SaaS and as such has the ability to be upgraded on the fly, with new features rolled out at will.
Compare this if you will to MS Office which has been in existence for decades, is primarily about creating the purty-est docs possible rather than collaboration, has a relatively steep learning cycle and has multi year release intervals. Get my drift here? They’re two different beasts entirely. Fact is that at this point in time people may well utilise both solutions, one where speed and agility are paramount and one were feature bloat is needed.
While I’m guilty in the past of having prophesied GDoc’s ascendency at MS Office’s expense, I need to clarify that my contention was based on GDocs gaining more functionality to put it in a position where it provided everything imperative that MS Office does, but in a collaboration-enabled setting.
The wood for the trees
Now hyperbole comes to the fore. We’re talking culture shift here. Paradigm change. This one is big.
GDocs is an example of where the future of computing and collaboration will be – that’s not a functionality discussion, it’s an existential one. While it is entirely valid to argue for or against GDocs based on functionality, this is a completely different argument from the one broached by the original poster: namely why Google docs is a serous threat to MS Office. It is NOT a threat because of what it does or doesn’t do at this point in time. It IS however a threat because it embodies the agility, speed, flexibility and, dare I say it, organic-ness of what will become the norm in the computing future.
For all these reasons ladies and gentlemen, I can only but concur with the original author. Google docs IS a serious threat to Microsoft Office.