Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

Summary: Breathe easy, Google. Microsoft Office 365 is proof that cluelessness still trumps innovation in Redmond.

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I should have known that Microsoft, in its effort to compete with Google Apps in productivity, would find a way to package its new hybrid cloud-desktop Office 365 into something that requires a computer science degree just to sign-up.

Breathe easy, Google. Once again, Redmond is alienating potential customers by over-thinking something that's supposed to make our lives easier. Its complex offering of both pricing and services is already making my head hurt.

To start, there are 11 different pricing plans for this new "cloud" model, which really isn't a true cloud offering because it's still largely tied to desktop software. (Note to Redmond: downloading and installing software from the Internet, instead of a CD, does not make it a "cloud" offering.) To make matters worse, the company is making it just as hard - if not harder - for anyone to kick the tires and put Office 365 up against the competition.

I was glad to see Google get ahead of the Microsoft announcement with a blog post highlighting some ways that Apps is superior to Office 365. From the Google post:

Office 365 is 11 different plans, three editions and two tiers. Apps is $5/month with no commitment. We have a single, transparent, low price that meets everyone’s needs, and it hasn’t changed in 4 years. There’s no extras for basics like phone support and robust productivity apps. No long term contracts or opaque enterprise agreements. We also don’t lock you in. By design, we make it as easy as possible for you to move off of Google Apps if you want. We have a dedicated team of engineers whose sole goal is to help you get your data in and out of our products for free.

By contrast, the first question in Microsoft's online FAQ about Office 365 asks about switching from one Office 365 plan to another. I couldn't believe Microsoft's answer:

We encourage you to buy the plan family (Plans P or E) you want to move forward with in the future. If, after purchase, you decide you want a plan from a different family, you will have to cancel your subscription and then buy a different plan (e.g., cancel your subscription to Plan P and then buy Plan E). Please be aware that your data may not be preserved, and you will have to provide sign up information again.

You almost want to laugh.

It's no secret that I've been a fan of what Google is doing with its cloud offerings. I know some people don't care for Google because of their concerns/paranoia about privacy - but you cannot argue that Google has made simple pricing and usage models a key priority. MIcrosoft could have done the same, but as Mary Jo Foley noted in her own post about Office 365:

...it’s hard to deny Office 365’s pricing/packaging complexity. I realize that there can be a trade-off between choice and simplicity, and Microsoft has gone for choice with its myriad Office 365 E plans, K plans, inclusion of a local Office client option, etc., and not a “one-price/package fits all” deal.

You see, Office 365 is not about the user, nor is it about taking the technology to the next level. It's about new revenue models - and locking customers into a complex system that will be hard to get out of later. Indulge me as a quote from the FAQ once more, this time as it relates to mobile access:

Access from mobile devices requires Wi-Fi capability or depends on carrier network availability. Some mobile functionality requires Microsoft Office Mobile 2010, which is included with specific releases of Windows Phones and Nokia phones. Office Mobile 2010 is not included in Office 2010 applications, suites, or Office Web Apps. There are some differences between the features of the Office Web Apps, Office Mobile 2010, and the Office 2010 applications.

Complexity.

The release of Office 365 is yet another example of why CEO Steve Ballmer is leading Microsoft (and its shareholders) down a path that will lead to the company's demise. Ballmer is a business guy, not a technology guy. And during a time when technology is advancing in ways that will make our lives easier and more flexible, Microsoft is operating in a silo of business-as-usual with disregard for technology that can untangle our digital lives.

I've said it before - and I'll say it again. If Microsoft wants to be a player in the next wave of technological innovation, it is time for Ballmer to go. Redmond has proven, once again, that it's completely out of touch when it comes to modern-day technology- not to mention anything remotely "cutting edge."

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Topics: Apps, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Software

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  • Ballmer - time to go!

    it is time for Ballmer to go
    avsol@...
    • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

      @avsol@... Let me think for a minute.... One size fits all (Google), or choice (Microsoft). Granted, Microsoft gives me as a businessman a lot more choice of prices and plans. But do I find the choice impossibly complex as these ZDNet bloggers would have me believe?

      Let me think about it for two or three minutes... If I make the right choice I might save my organization hundreds or many thousands of dollars a year.

      Yea, let me mull this over for a sec.

      Humm, I think I've made the right choice. And, most likely, it was one of the 11 choices that Microsoft offered me versus the one that Google offered me.
      easson
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @easson Some people likes to blast themselves (also called "masochism") so if that makes you feel fine, enjoy it.<br><br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy"><br><br>I prefer to go even with the free version of Google that offers me way more thn what I need and all works like a charm and I get improvements often and always for free.<br><br>"I did it myyyyy waaaaaaayyyyyy...."
        nanomartin
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @easson You are absolutely Right. This article made me laugh because it obviously was written from the mindset of 'the individual'. Corporations like and want choices and each industry has its own set of challenges and requirements. The Google one size fits all is very short sighted and once again Microsoft proves it understands the corporate market place a lot better than Google.
        GeiselS
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        The article link didn't come through. It's called "Office 365 vs. Google Apps vs. Zoho", came out yesterday from readwriteweb dot com.
        kurt.sampson@...
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @easson<br>"Let me think about it for two or three minutes... If I make the right choice I might save my organization hundreds or many thousands of dollars a year."<br><br>Office 365 starts at $6<br>Google Apps starts at $5<br><br>How can you save money with Office 365 if the cheaper option is more expensive than Googles?
        arielmon@...
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @easson I have to agree- not sure why the writer of this article believes in a "one size fits all" solution- I, for one, am not simple minded enough to buy ANYTHING that is 'one size ONLY- so BUY IT AND LIKE IT YOU SIMPLE LITTLE PEOPLE! WE KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU, SO DON'T DARE TRY TO THINK FOR YOURSELVES! Come on, I don't but my clothes that way (that would be a laugh wouldn't it?) so why would I want a simplistic answer to problems that are far from simple? Makes me wonder just who is paying this writer more- zdnet or google... Frankly, I expect more from a 'tech' blog than some fan drooling over simplicity in a complex world. I guess my post will be deleted though...
        xplorer1959
      • Chose and expertise

        @easson
        Sure that business is able to chose between 11 options, or that think they are? Your missing already an important point, the lock in.
        Seen and heard to much to believe it. Like an IT responsible taking budget from other projects to pay for Sharepoint. They told him it was not expensive, he had already all the needed products like office and so for Sharepoint to work. What a coincidence.
        What was, for 20 years or so, on the market and what did the IT departments bought. They should really really really seek independent advice before signing something. And use common sense. If Google really does not lock in, what should they try first?
        bezoeker
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @easson I doubt Sam Diaz's point is aimed at the IT intellectual like yourself. I'm sure if I really wanted to I'd consider going down that path as well but firstly because I couldn't be bothered & Google offers far more for far less than Microsuxoften & secondly because I don't ever want to give them another cent I'd go with Google. The other point is that Google has done cloud better for longer than Microsuxalways there seems minimal reason to do anything other than Google.

        As for the evil empire at Google, in comparison to the evil empire at Microevillysoft, Google are featherweights...
        alfielee@...
    • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

      Sam Diaz, you are a moron.
      mikroland
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @mikroland

        Agreed.
        OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @mikroland

        That's a helpful comment!
        keisman
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @mikroland

        Have to second this. Ballmer does have to go, but Sam is certainly working on making him look intelligent. In between pizza and beer binges, that is.
        Ternarybit
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @mikroland agreed.

        I'm started getting sick of people missing the point, and this article is a prime example. In no way, shape or form, does this guy work in the real world.

        Business needs choice, and business doesn't like google. They don't like being one size fits all, and each and every one has differing challenges. The like security, and they don't go for 'wishy-washy' promises of things likely to stem from google.

        Google Apps doesn't meet these needs. As a home user, I use Gmail. It's cool. It's not for business, and Google Apps don't have the functions me or my clients need to operate in any reasonable fashion.

        Additionally, in Australia there is little of this 'support' you mention. One of my clients (who we picked up because Google lost their email in the transition - as a sponsored google client no-less) is now completely against cloud due to google - both MS and Google. The reason - they couldn't get support to assist when they needed them most, and the local deployment partner stopped returning calls..

        When it is all said and done, the simplistic and obviously fan-boi views expessed in this article are simply not based in reality.

        I do agree balmer must go though - I like some of the stuff MS divisions are doing, but miss style at the top.

        You get what you pay for.
        stewymelb
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @mikroland only bcoz you said so though bcoz you know & you can say it so it must be true. There are some that agree with him completely. The extras that MS offers aren't always required & I would dare say mostly aren't required. Many companies are leaving Microsuxoften bcoz of this reason so are you sure you actually know your stuff...
        alfielee@...
  • Wrong - it's only complex if you want it to be

    Making a big deal from nothing.

    You want complex? Go ask L.A. how "easy and cheap" it is to go with Google Apps, that is if they can give you a straight answer. ;)
    Will Pharaoh
    • Sadly I agree

      @Will Pharaoh There is not a single true successful story about using Google Apps in the real world.
      wackoae
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @wackoae I think that really depends on your line of work. In my company google docs works pretty well. We don't need fancy formatting options, we need speed and easiness of sharing and working together while modelling information.
        cameigons
      • I was just talking to the whole complex pricing thing.

        @wackoae
        I went to MS's site. P plan for samll business, E1,2,3,4 for enterprise, all showing what you get and how much it costs for each.

        Pretty straight forward to me. I don't know what the blogger's having trouble with.
        Will Pharaoh
      • RE: Complexity of Office 365 is a good thing... for Google Apps

        @wackoae You are probably correct, however, I agree with, cameigons, if you need just plain simple documents, with little or no features then Google Docs is a good solution. Our company has both, and Google Docs is having a very hard transition - it's not robust enough for people...yet. I say yet because eventually they may get there.
        ItsTheBottomLine