Microsoft is making its biggest move into the mobile, internet-accessible world of “cloud” computing this week, as it takes the wraps off a revamped online version of its hugely profitable Office software suite.
The world’s largest software company is heaving its two-decade old set of applications — including Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools — into an online format so that customers can use them on a variety of devices from wherever they can get an Internet connection.
It wants to push back against Google, which has stolen a small but worrying percentage of its corporate customers with cheaper, web-only alternatives.
“It’s obvious that Microsoft has to do this if they’re going to remain competitive with Google,” said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of money manager YCMNET Advisors.
Microsoft shares rose 3.7% on Monday, the largest single-day gain since September following the news.
Microsoft has offered online versions of some Office programmes — chiefly Outlook email —for its corporate customers for several years, and last year rolled out free versions for individual home users.
Chief executive Steve Ballmer presented an updated set of offerings — collectively called Office 365 — in New York on Tuesday, underlining the company’s newfound online focus.