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Grabbing Microsoft by the neck

To understand Google strategy, we need to understand Microsoft Office is a major cash cow for Microsoft, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2007 19:03 IST

Is Google getting too big for its boots? I bet Steve Ballmer thinks so. I bet he even laced it with an abuse or two (remember what he called Google two years ago!).

As the war between tech giants Microsoft, the biggest organisation in the universe and Google, the entrepreneurial technology wonder, enters its fourth year, the precision factor gets high definition. It isn't about buy outs, building empires, any longer. That's already been done. It's now time for high definition action. Attack right in the heart of the enemy. Google surely has guts of steel. But the point is is Microsoft really getting punched?

Google Guts - Power of Steel

I love Animal Crackers toon in the daily newspaper. It has profound wisdom. Imagine an ant telling a tiger "Wanna compete. I will beat you at your own game". That's exactly what Page has done to Gates. It requires guts of steel to take on a giant like Microsoft and beat them at their own game.

Imagine this is the biggest company on earth. The likes of Shell, General Motors, the top organisations for generations now with the best brains money can buy, compete with this organization in terms of revenues and position. Yet they cannot beat it.

And here Google, a small entrepreneurial venture a few years ago is now challenging the very heart of the giant's empire. If Google Docs and Spreadsheets was an entry in the heart of Microsoft, with Google Presentations Google has made it clear what its strategy is.

Google and Microsoft - Attack is the best defense

Eric's pride, Ballmer's envy

Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco that, by later this year, Docs & Spreadsheets would allow users to create presentations - much like Microsoft's PowerPoint.

Eric has a point. Document collaboration on the net has turned out to be bigger than Google imagined. Google Presentations adds another tool to the Google version of Office Tools.

Attacking Microsoft's 'cash cow'

To understand Google strategy, we need to understand Microsoft Office is a major cash cow for Microsoft. Attacking it would be the best defense for Google in the years to come when the battle for supremacy gets more bloody.

MS Office wins

It's true Microsoft Office is far superior to what Google has to offer. Writely, renamed as Google Docs is just a dignified version of Wordpad. Microsoft Word is far far more superior. Plus Microsoft Word has more security etc. In its current avatar Google Doc is nothing compared to Word. Same with Spreadsheets. Current date and time MS Office wins any day.

But the point is the pace with which Google is developing these tools and with collaborative functions which are getting popular, and maybe making it more secure in future could surely be a huge challenge for Microsoft. The days of MS Office selling for $1000 upwards are definitely history.

The last word

Google may have a sure winner in its hands in terms of numbers. But Google should understand revenues don't come from numbers. There has been an alternative to Microsoft Office for years now. Open Office is a beautiful office suite and far more superior to what Google offers currently. Yet even Open Office hasn't been able to take way Microsoft's enterprise customers.

Documents for an office mean confidentiality, security, of immense value. Something Google simply doesn't offer. Can you imagine the White House using Google Docs only to be told some geek in Ukarine hacked the Google server! Or can you imagine the management of Top Inc using Google Word? The value Microsoft Offers is far far more than anything Google offers so far. Office suites aren't just about university students sharing documents.

How much has Open Office dented Microsoft? Can Google dent Microsoft's cash cow? My guess is it won't be as easy as it sounds. The days of $1000 MS Office maybe history. But the days of Microsoft Office at $10 definitely haven't arrived.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and edits www.thebusinessedition.com you can email him on puneet@cyberzest.com