But Oracle appears to be ramping up things. That is, the company has launched Oracle Cloud Office. Based on technology gained from the Sun acquisition, this offering has the full suite of web-based apps for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases.
People who have the entrepreneurial spirit are familiar with the unique adrenaline rush that comes from the live-or-die risk of starting a business. For many, small business is a way of life that represents long hours and near-obsessive passion. With all the pressure and time constraints riding on a small business, what are the five best software applications that can greatly help these start-ups or modest operations? There are definitely some critical software choices that make a small business more efficient and more effective. And better yet, three of them are free.
The father of the PDF document, Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE), is starting to push further into the web-based document creation business. That strategy puts it squarely in the cross-hairs of Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and its excellent Google Docs product, as well as software giant Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), which is set to release a major online component with Office 2010.
Adobe indicated that a fee-based version its new online initiatives would allow businesses to covert all kinds of documents to the de-facto PDF standard, as well as hold online meetings via Acrobat.com.
Some people will go out of their way to avoid using Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows operating system. If you look around carefully enough, you can escape the "Microsoft tax" and get a PC for a lower price. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) already sells PCs that don't use Windows, and it's about to add a laptop PC to the mix.
The world's largest retailer will begin selling an ultra-light, two-pound laptop PC in a few weeks. Made by Everex, it comes with gobs of Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) applications and links to online services pre-installed. These services include Google Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google News, Google Maps and YouTube. There are so many links to Google's online content that the laptop is already being referred to as containing the "Google operating system."
Big Blue will launch a new, free office-like product called Symphony. It will be available on the internet, and it is free.
According to The Wall Street Journal "Symphony is based on software available from Open Office." The same foundation is used for Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and Google's desktop applications processes. The product also has functions from Notes, a product IBM bought years ago. Notes was almost run out of the market by Microsoft. IBM hopes that the free software application will help it sell more recent versions of Notes, which includes e-mail and instant messaging.
Does the IBM launch matter? Probably not. Nor does the recent upgrade of Google Apps to include software similar to PowerPoint. Microsoft has about 500 million desktop applications running on PCs and the Journal writes the company has "sold 71 million licenses of its latest version of Office in the fiscal year ended June 30." The Office software sells for slightly more than $100.
Getting customers to leave Microsoft, with its huge installed base, is almost impossible.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 247wallst.com.
The answer is bit complicated, so we'll attack the "Windows" question first. Microsoft licenses out the Windows operating system to almost all computer makers who then install it on the PCs they sell to the public and businesses (and everyone else). No customer probably told Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) or Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ) that they wanted Windows -- there simply is no choice when buying a PC. Recent advances by Dell to make the free Ubuntu Linux operating system available on some PCs has happened, sure. But, the majority of the public just wants what they are used to, which is Windows. People love change, right? Wrong. There are then many (many) versions of Windows for servers and workstations that are sold as well.
Let's turn to Microsoft Office. Again, it brings in a ton of revenue to Redmond, even though there are full office productivity suites that compete with it. My guess is that many of you can't name one though -- and that is what Microsoft counts on, which is branding power. The full-featured OpenOffice productivity suite is pretty darn impressive (I've used it), and it's completely free and interoperable with Microsoft Office (not sure about Office 2007). Why don't more people use it then? Lack of knowing it exists is a possibility, and having to download the suite or order it for about $10 on CD may be obstacles. Plus, you can't find it on Best Buy shelves. If customers start becoming smarter and find out out about OpenOffice or even Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG)'s Google Apps, could a large piece of Microsoft's kingdom come crashing down?
[Disclosure: I own MSFT shares as of 5-29-07]
Indeed, Microsoft is pushing hard to integrate its Office suite into "Office Live", which at some point int he future needs to probably replace that bulky retail box that comes with Microsoft Office when you buy it. So, does Microsoft see Office apps living entirely on the web as well? In some form, I think it does.
There will, however, always be a need to have a locally-installed Office productivity suite installed on millions of computers, unless Internet access is ubiquitous as the air we all breathe. I'm not sure about you, but there are times when, gasp, I actually do not have Internet access, but still need to get work done. There's a major scratch.
Are we close to "Web 2.0" of everything you use on a daily basis being "webified"? That will eventually happen, but as I stated above, you can't just port every single thing to a web browser and expect the globe to start using just a web browser for everything, no matter how heavily Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) thinks this is going to happen. While many millions of customers will be easily wanting to just use a web browser to get most of their work done, that backup option will always need to be there for the future, I see.
The largest threat to Microsoft via Google if is Google somehow starts promoting the "OpenOffice" open-source office productivity suite, another area the source article mentions. I've used OpenOffice and find it to be a perfect -- and FREE -- replacement for home users and small-office users compared to Microsoft Office. The devil is in the details. OpenOffice has the same basic programs as Microsoft Office, is fully inter-compatible with Microsoft Office, and can be had for free. Why it has not become a viable threat, yet, is due to poor marketing more than anything. Sun Microsystems, the original proponent behind OpenOffice, needs to drop flyers from planes all over the world to alert customers to this alternative.