Do we still need office suites?

It seems to me there is enough free stuff around to make it hard to justify MS Office for many people.

For me I only really use Excel and Access, I could get away with notepad or wordpad for word processing, except I use Open Office.

(I notice though there is no wordpad equivalent for spreadsheets.)

So I was wondering does anyone think it would be realistic to do away with MS Office and just cherry pick the components that people need from Open Office and Excel/Word/PowerPoint? Would it be worth doing? I guess Office pricing means if you buy one product the rest come almost free.

The reason I ask is that I just can’t see many orgs moving to 2007 because of the incompatible UI, but some of they may want to move somewhere before the next MS Office. Where do you think they will go?

Is MS Office safe or are there realistic alternatives?

Note I didn’t discuss Linux and Mac options, but I have already said I think Excel/VBA is what keeps people on Windows.

(btw I have plenty of internet access so should be able to keep up the post rate)




9 Responses to “Do we still need office suites?”

  1. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    To put it simple:
    My wife use OpenOffice on Linux.
    My kids use StarOffice (as the licenses at school allow to use copies at home computers).
    As a hobby I use GNumeric :)

    From what I’ve seen and learned it seems that Outlook (Exchange) is an important client tool for large corporates where Word/Excel comes bundled with it.

    The online services still have a long way to go before they can really be an option.

    In addition, I believe it’s a must to find an attractive and flexible price model. In a perfect world I would only be paying for something when I need to use it.

    Kind regards,

  2. Harlan Grove Says:

    Does MSFT provide volume licensing discounts for individual Office applications? If not, it may be cheaper for most large companies and organizations to buy Office Standard than any ONE of Word, Excel or PPT on their own.

  3. Marcus Says:

    When you buy something, often what you are paying for is an intangible. Volvos offer safety. Caterpillar promised spare parts anywhere in the world in 48 hours. That Rolex does a pretty similar job to a Timex but provides status. Another intangibles include status, security and peace of mind.

    MS provides large corporates a lot of additional intangibles beyond the installation CD. They have access to levels of technical support most customers don’t for example. I’ve heard of MS technical consultants being called in on short notice (i.e. now!) to trouble shoot a BI implementation.

    Large corporate also have haggling power. When you’re buying 35,000 licences, you bet they get volume discounts.

    While I can see how MSO share may erode at the edges with school, home and SME markets I don’t think this will triggering the tipping point for large corporates. Apple have had Macs in school for years – has it helped their market share? On the corporate desktop PC’s dominate, regardless of what you used at school.

    > “I would only be paying for something when I need to use it”
    While logical, there’s also a paradox in this observation. The most common comment I received delivering advanced MSO courses was: “Well, it was interesting, but I can only use 20% of what I learnt.” The catch is the 20% differs depending on what you need to get done. Most users don’t have the time or inclination to discover what features they’re prepared to pay for.

    One of the books I read, (The Business of Software, I think) talked about taking market share from a competitive product, using accounting software as an example. To persuade customers to jump ship, your offering has to be superior (price, features) – that’s expected. But the transition from a competitive product to yours also needs to be seamless and transparent. No one is going to buy your software if they have to re-key all their accounting entries. Your software must offer an import facility which perfectly imports their precious data.

    Until a competitive product offers to transparently replace MSO (VBA, QueryDefs, everything) I feel that it will remain entrenched in the corporate environment for a long time to come.

  4. simon Says:

    Good point on the intangibles Marcus
    Do you think that declines when products go out of mainstream support?
    It doesnt look like it to me.
    About taking market share – how does that stack up with 2007s incompatible interface?

  5. Marcus Says:

    “Do you think that declines when products go out of mainstream support?”
    It depends. Sometimes larger corporates are able to haggle out support contracts post product retirement.

    “market share – 2007s incompatible interface”
    For the companies I deal with, who tend to be conservative by nature, many will be happy to sit on their hands for a few years. Some are only rolling out MSO 2003. This may mean they’ll skip a version.

    As for the online option, the interface richness and functionality is only a small part of the equation. For corporates, I see issue of data integrity and control to be a larger issue.

    P.S. How’s Seattle treating you Simon?

    Cheers – Marcus

  6. Jon Peltier Says:

    “The reason I ask is that I just can’t see many orgs moving to 2007 because of the incompatible UI, but some of they may want to move somewhere before the next MS Office.”

    If these orgs decide not to upgrade to 2007, why would they move to some other product? They are likely to stick to 2003/2/0. I still have clients, some of them large companies, happily using Office 2000. Their IT departments are content with not rolling out a disruptive upgrade through the company. If they had to upgrade, they would surely resist a brand-new rollout an unknown like OpenOffice in favor of an upgrade of the better-supported MS.

    I agree with Marcus that Office 2007 will be the great leapfrog version, or should I say “leapfrogged”, with users skipping over 2007 on the way to the next version, which is likely to have all the good stuff from 2007, wrapped in a more friendly and adaptable interface, and with the bumps smoothed out.

  7. Simon Says:

    Seattle is good, it nearly didn’t rain all day yesterday (but its horizontal sleet showers at home in the UK)
    Jon fair point maybe they just won’t move, no one actually seem overly worried about products going out of support.

  8. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    Unfortunately we’d welcome horizontal sleet showers. Due to the drought here, we’re about to enter the next phase in water restrictions. One of the restrictions only permits us to water the garden for two hours a week, by hand (no sprinklers).

    Cheers – Marcus

  9. Lord Says:

    OpenOffice is certainly sufficient for almost all individuals. Only the notoriety of MSO and implicit compatibility with their companies MSO keep individuals using it.

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