In “Microsoft in Denial: Google Threat is Classic Disruption,” we explained why Microsoft (MSFT) should be terrified of Google’s move into the office productivity market, even as Microsoft scoffs at this idea. Today, a high-profile former Microsoft customer, Damon Darlin of the New York Times, explains why he didn’t need to shell out $150 for a bare-bones copy of Office. His reasons mirror why we at SAI are also largely Microsoft-free.
Darlin (and we) didn’t buy Office because:
- He didn’t need all of its features (by a long shot).
- Google Apps get the job done.
- Google Apps are free.
- Google Apps are in some ways (namely, collaboration and remote access) miles better than Office, which still requires that users email docs to each other.
To these reasons, we would add our own:
- Google Apps are far more convenient to run (no installation, no IT department)
- Google Apps don’t require a central office server on which to store communal documents.
- Google Apps don’t require any form of corporate network–just Internet access.
We should stress that we don’t have anything against Microsoft. We like Office, and we’ve actually been planning to buy a copy eventually, but we just haven’t gotten around to it. Sure, we’ve enjoyed saving money and time, but if it were a hassle, we’d pony up.
Obviously there are still some drawbacks, the biggest of which is that other people still send us Word and Excel documents (which we can open in a “Preview” feature, but can’t deal with as easily). This happens surprisingly infrequently, however (the most popular email attachments are PDF files, but most folks just link to web pages). We probably won’t write our next book on Google Docs (though we would never say never), and we probably wouldn’t build a full-fledged M&A financial model on Google Spreadsheet (though we are power spreadsheet users, and it has been months since we opened our home version of Excel).
But isn’t Microsoft Office better than Google Apps? Yes, in some ways it’s still much better. (In others, though, it’s inferior). But the key point about disruptive technologies is not that they’re better. It’s that they easier, more convenient, cheaper, and good enough.
Two years ago, it would have been unthinkable for our burgeoning little business (thank you!) to function without a single copy of Microsoft Office or Windows. Now, it’s easier, cheaper, and more convenient. And, so far, in our office alone, that change has cost Microsoft about $2,000 of revenue.
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