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Office 365 vs Google Apps: Is Microsoft trying to be like Google?

Office 365

Microsoft is trying to be a little more like Google. When you think of Microsoft you most likely think of Windows and Office. With the new Office 2013 launching, the team from Redmond is really trying to tie in other products besides the typical office suite. I say really trying because they are offering a few free add on services for the first time.

Skype was purchased by Microsoft in 2011 and not much has been different with the company. Users are still able to Skype video chat to other Skype subscribers for free and they can use the Skype to phone option with cheap per minute rates. The lack of change might soon be over as the subscription based Office now includes 60 minutes of Skype International calling each month. This means you get an hour of calling select countries from your Skype account on any device that supports the app.

Could Microsoft be using this method to get Skype into the daily routing of more consumers? As with many promotions, they will hope users try Skype and go over the initial 60 minute allocation.  Skydrive is also going to get a bump in storage for existing accounts. When you subscribe to Office, your Skydrive account will receive a 20GB increase in online storage.

Office 365

Skydrive is similar to Google Drive and Dropbox with cloud sync ability among different devices.  Both the Skype and Skydrive applications are available on iOS and Android phones along with of course Windows Phone. Microsoft could leverage both platforms together and have the ability to collaborate on a document with others while using Skype Voice or Video calling.

The $99 a year subscription to Office 365 will provide up to 5 installs on either PC’s or a Mac. This breaks down to $20 a year per user if all 5 installs are used under the 1 household rule. Microsoft is not doing a lot to prevent you and 4 friends to split that cost, but it is against the TOS. When broke down to $20 a year, this becomes a much more consumer friendly option. Considering Google Drive has a limited, but compatible version of Office built in for free, it is a good deal at $20 a year for the full suite with Skydrive integration.

You are also getting the ability to sign into their cloud site, office.com and have a fully functioning version that is actually streaming from the web. It will require a Windows 7 or 8 PC, but the technology works great and it gives the impression you are working on native software. This feature has extreme potential as it  can be used anywhere you have an internet connection on any compatible OS.

Of course users can still opt for the ‘old’ version of the software with the flat up front cost. Three options are available for potential customers. Office Home & Student includes Word, Excel, Power Point and One Note for $139.99. The mid tier version for $219.99 includes the same software with Outlook included. Office Pro 2013 comes in at $399.99 and includes  the additional Publisher and Access titles. All of the non cloud versions are for installing only a single copy.

Microsoft is really pushing users to the Office 365 platform based on price and value alone. It is a step into their future, but not forcing users is the correct choice. Many office customers upgrade every so many versions and it might not make sense for them to pay on a yearly model if they are currently happy using Office 2003.

Offering monthly services and connecting other applications is very similar to the Google model. After creating a simple Google account, users have access to hundreds of other free Google services that mostly are connected in some fashion. The recent mail switch from Microsoft Hotmail to Outlook.com has a distinct Gmail like appearance. Yahoo has just  gone through a similar approach to their mail layout. Good or bad, the Google model is working and of course the competition will attempt to mimic everything from looks to functionality.

Google took to the cloud first with the original Google Docs product. Having the ability to open, view, edit and save official Office documents on any device was a huge leap. Microsoft has taken a step in the right direction with Office 365, but for team collaboration Google still has an advantage with the ability for multiple users to view and edit a document at the same time. Microsoft does offer this service, but it requires a Sharepoint setup. Having used both I would much rather prefer the Google Drive setup for most basic documents.

Here is a brief look at each company and just a few of their competing products.

Chrome vs Internet Explorer
Google vs Bing
Gmail vs Hotmail
Google Talk vs Lync
Android vs Windows Phone
Google Maps vs Bing Maps
Google Voice vs Skype
Youtube vs Skydrive Video
Drive vs Office 365
Drive vs Skydrive
Google Wallet vs Microsoft Wallet
Finance vs MSN Money
Chromebooks vs Surface line
Google Ads vs Microsoft Adcenter
Google Plus vs Microsoft Socl
Chrome OS vs Windows

As you can see, the two companies have each introduced different products to compete on all levels. Google still considers themselves an advertising company and Microsoft is a software service company. Those lines continue to blur as they each tip toe the line.

Do you plan on subscribing to Office 365? Personally I would not pay $99 a year for office, but splitting with it with a few friends or family members might make it worth while. Until then, i’ll continue to use my legit student version of Office 2007 when needed, but Google Drive for most of my everyday tasks.

Microsoft Office 365

Collaboration in the cloud with Office 365. Enterprise class software for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 Overview

Office 365 is familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud. Everyone can work together easily with anywhere access to email, web conferencing, documents, and calendars. It includes business-class security and is backed by Microsoft. Whether you are a small business or multinational enterprise, Office 365 offers plans designed to fit your organization’s unique needs.

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