MS Office 2010 or Google Docs?

Probably Google Docs (according to Google).

I wonder, is anyone actually involved in a corporate evaluation of Google docs with the specific intention of phasing out MS Office? (even for a subset of users?)

I doubt very much that Google docs will be in a position to replace MS Office in 12 months, even with their planned 30-50 updates. I doubt even more that organisations will be in a position to consider that move in 12 months time.

My experience of the Office user world is that progress/change is glacial.

In the last 15 years there has been all manner of software created and released, some of which has removed the need for techniques I used to build Office based systems years ago. So I don’t do those things now – I implement the new features/product.

As I tour around though I still see lots of others still using those outdated, long superseded techniques. And when I show them the latest thinking, they say ‘no thanks, we like doing it this way’.

Their choice obviously, but I don’t see how those very same people who won’t even consider using pivot tables, are going to move to some brand new office suite.

I also think Google underestimate how much corporate IT values homogeneity. Way more than productivity, for example, in my experience. So I don’t see IT queuing up to move half their users to a different platform, saving the users budget centre a load of licence cost. Whilst simultaneously burdening themselves with double support costs? Can’t see it, can you?

I know these guys have to talk up their cloudy products and services, but when they stray so far from reality they just lose credibility. IMO of course, what do you think?




10 Responses to “MS Office 2010 or Google Docs?”

  1. Tom Gleeson Says:

    Don’t see it happening in most established companies, too much hassle for too ittle gain.

    But, within hungry (and poor) new businesses (or downsized old businesses), the situation is different, such organisations are more open to new ideas (such as subsidised employee-owned hardware), serverless offices (peer-to-peer makes a return) etc. It’ll be slow (& Google is in it for the long term), but in the natural order of things, such “new” companies will eventually see their “more efficient” means of working become main-stream.


  2. mikewoodhouse Says:

    Large existing corporates would need a fairly compelling argument to vhange, and the reduced licensing cost doesn’t really qualify on its own. For any banking environment there would need to be an almost painless cutover, to include macros and compiled add-ins. While I could imagine that being possible, I don’t see it happening for years. AFAIK, Google don’t have macros or any XLL equivalent at the moment. That’s an instant show-stopper at any place I’ve workied in the last 30 years.

    For any site that doesn’t write macros, they should probably already be using OpenOffice already, in which case the case is again not too compelling.

    The real selling point appears to be ubiquitous access and collaboration, which might appeal to decentralised operations, perhaps with a large home-working element. Even then, I’m still struggling to see where the value in simultaneous update lies – how often is it really useful to have two or more users updating a document at the same time? Or have I missed the point in some dinosaur way?

  3. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    The MS Office suite rules and I doubt little with change it within the foreseeable future.

    With the Web version of Office 2010 MS can (easily) defend it’s market position if someone will eventually challenge.

    Kind regards,

  4. Marcus from London Says:

    From an IB perspective I have yet to see Vista in the wild (I mean nada). And the sightings of MSO 2007 are (very) few and far between – all ‘special case’ installations rather wholesale upgrades.

    3 big hurdles I see – although I’m sure there’s more – to topple Excel’s ubiquity are VBA, document security and environmental integration. By the last item I mean the custom libraries and environments in which Excel co-exists for producing financial/risk models.

    And from an automation perspective, there still appears to be plenty of Greenfield VBA development going on.

    For document security, any online alternative would need to provide the type of security (including Chinese walls) that would not only let the IB feel warm and fuzzy, but also their respective regulators.

    Oh, as a 4th item you may want to include native integration with other applications from data sources (MSAS, SQL Server) to data providers (BB, Reuters etc).

    Of late I have seen C# COM add-ins replacing XLL’s.

  5. Simon Says:

    I’ve noticed an upswing in C#/Excel stuff too Marcus, there is even a VSTO job on jobserve currently (even though the site is virtually unusable, I managed to see it briefly). As you say VBA is still strong too though.

    The Office 2010 Web apps is an interesting proposition Dennis. If it gets people used to not using a client installed app then in a way it takes customers nearer Google apps & docs.

  6. Jon Peltier Says:

    One of my clients has moved all of his internal spreadsheet work to OO, after trying 2007 and being terribly upset at it.

    Of course, his business involves sending workbook-based reports to his clients, so for that he’s still using Excel 2003.

    This is a small company, just two people, so their shoice doesn’t signify any kind of significant groundswell.

  7. Mathias Says:

    Google Apps is making some headway in the private sector, and in government as well – see – but their trojan horse is the mail system, not the office apps. That being said, it sets a bad precedent for Microsoft; the biggest hurdle is the acceptance of a cloud service. The City of Los Angeles switched to Google recently – see – and “Meanwhile, Microsoft Office will remain on all desktop PCs that have it and future purchases will be evaluated for necessity, she added.”

  8. Harlan Grove Says:

    Depends on what average users are doing. Where I work, at least 90% could easily move from Word to Google’s word processor without much complaint. Ditto PowerPoint.

    As for Access, sorry to break it to any Access developers here, but the IT department of the company I work for has finally decided to remove MS Access. Access data and applications are being migrated to data marts and server-based/intranet browser UI BI tools. Access development is now officially dead here. This may have something to do with the fact we remain a Lotus Notes shop with no prospect of moving to Outlook/Exchange and less to SharePoint etc.

    That leaves Excel. A good chunk, more than 50%, of actual Excel usage takes place using canned Excel models run on Terminal Servers and accessed via Citrix. The bulk of the remaining Excel usage is typical end user Excel usage: building lists, making ad hoc charts, doing 5-operator arithmetic. No VBA to speak of, certainly no add-ins other than Analysis ToolPak.

    The main reason I can see why there’s still an MSO license on every PC here is that it’s required to run Excel on Terminal Server. In terms of actual features used, most of my coworkers could get by with Google Docs for all their ad hoc word processing or spreadsheeting.

  9. Greg Says:

    Google docs wouldn’t cut it where I work (functionality, security, compatibility with existing apps, … etc.), but I could see myself using it back in high school or college. For school you can usually get by with fewer features and the price is right.

  10. John Doe Says:

    Even if Google made their apps = Office, and then paid people/businesses to switch… transition would be painfully slooooow. I’m in the accounting filed and I get to work with a lot of different users (both coworkers & clients), and I have come to realize that trying to change their habits is a waste of time. It’s just too frustrating. When I say “habits” I’m not referring to anything semi-sophisticated; they know what they know b/c of repetition… (monkey see, monkey do) In their minds, change is not good, and they intend to stick to what they have been doing for the last 10/15/20 years.
    Efficiency, productivity you say? Hey, as long as these people get a check at the end of the week, they could not care less.

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