We all know how Microsoft has been targeting Google in mass media over the past year. It is impossible to miss all the advertisements alluding that it is impossible to get “Real Work” done without using a Microsoft Tool.
The purpose of this article is not to take a side, to say if one company is better than the other. What I wish to discuss is the way this competition will benefit all users, especially in the business sector.
1 – Lower Prices for Core Functionality
It is a fact of life, to conduct business you must invest in capital tools. The office computer does not come for free, nor does the software running on it. Google started a pricing war when it first brought Google Apps for Business onto the scene.
Microsoft struck back, by creating and expanding its Office365 product lines. Now, both services offer business users access to high-end tools at a small fraction of the price that would have been incurred just a few short years ago. It is easier for a small business owner to part with $15 per user, per month, rather than $200 per user!
In addition, both services now offer free web tools for home use. This enables employees to have access to the same tools that is in use in the office, without costing the company any additional funds.
2 – More Rapid Program Development
What happens when one car dealership offers a deal that beats the rest? The first thing that occurs is a major sell by the other dealerships, in order to keep from losing business. Afterwards, the heads of the rival companies try to figure out the best way to one-up the competitor that disrupted the marketplace. The goal being to grab a larger segment of the car-buying market for themselves.
This holds true for tech companies as well. In the past two years, Google and Microsoft have been carefully monitoring each other’s developments and using the other as inspiration as to where to go next.
For instance, Google has long since allowed members to start conversations with each other throughout the Google App ecosystem. Microsoft decided to emulate this, and add compatibility to talk with anyone in the world through Skype.
3 – Better Customer Service
Why does the cable company treat people so rudely? Why are the prices growing faster than inflation? The reasons for this is simple, a monopoly gives the company absolute power to act in a less than friendly manner.
For several years, Microsoft Office fit the role of near-absolute monopoly. It was, and still is to a great extent, the de-facto standard for business communication. This enabled the company set prices at such a level that made it difficult for small businesses to bear.
In addition, communication with the company was both opaque and expensive.
Google has turned this issue upon its head, by creating dedicated forums where members of the company discuss issues with the software. After some time, Microsoft followed suite through Twitter and a dedicated blog.
4 – Easier Transitions to Future Technology
There are three stages to a document’s life. The first is the creation, where it does not really matter what tool is used as long as all participants can use it. The second is the distribution phase, where it is vital to use a common file format that can be viewed on the widest variety of machines possible.
The third is archival – documents need to be stashed away for future recall. In the past, this involved volatile storage medium that could easily be unreadable five years down the road.
Both Google and Microsoft are currently in a pricing war on online storage, enabling businesses to quickly accumulate large volumes of secure, off-site, storage for vital documents.
Cheaper prices, more frequent updates, and larger usage cases are the result of these two companies battling each other for market share. As it stands, both product suites are capable of providing an excellent basis for collaborative work in an open and secure environment.
It is hard to tell what will come in the future, but considering the pressures these two companies are placing on each other it is safe to assume that it will benefit the wise professional.
Image Credit: Flickr user LatinSud