In an effort to meet the pressure from Google’s online programs such as Google Docs and Google Apps, not to mention numerous other companies and programs going to the cloud, Microsoft has decided to launch their own version: Microsoft Office 365.
While Google Docs remains free, Office 365 will initially cost about $6 a month for subscription service. Microsoft is relying on brand name familiarity to urge businesses and individuals to stick with their product despite the cost (Microsoft Office products brought in $3 Billion last quarter alone).
The ease of use of cloud programs is what is causing this shift from local software-installed programs to the online medium. Customers can sign-on from essentially any device anywhere there is a connection, and be able to access their programs and content. Microsoft, like Google, will host users’ data remotely, and maintain all the servers in data centers. Unlike Google, however, it will also let companies put their data on dedicated servers if they choose, or keep the data on their own premises.
Microsoft says that the company can guarantee 99.9 percent uptime for Office 365 servers to ensure access. Microsoft also includes its Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, which scans continually for viruses in an effort to keep information secure.
As time plays out, there will be a clearer picture as to whether Microsoft can beat back the pressure of Google to maintain the office program market it has dominated for the past 20 years. Microsoft is hoping that by keeping the interface and look/feel of the previous versions, more people will make the transition to Office 365. But with the free cost of Google Docs and an earlier introduction into the cloud, we’ll see if Microsoft can stay afloat.