Game over: Microsoft Office is killing Google Apps and anemic iWorks

If you've thought that Microsoft might have serious competition for the office suite business, you can end that thought. It's now clear that Microsoft Office not only dominates today, but will tomorrow, and far into the foreseeable future.

Microsoft's biggest competitor for office suites is Google Apps, and Computerworld reports that Google Apps is struggling, especially in the enterprise market where it hoped to make big gains. The author of the article, Juan Carlos Perez, interviewed businesses and analysts, who said that Google Apps had fallen behind Microsoft Office and other rivals. He reports that today, seven years after innovative Google Apps was released:

Complacency has diluted that innovative spirit, and Google Apps now trails competing suites from IBM, Cisco and Microsoft in areas like enterprise social networking (ESN) and unified communications (UC).

For example, the healthcare company Schumacher Group has been using Google Apps for four years, but is now seriously looking at switching to Office 365, which includes online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office. Schumacher CIO Douglas Menefee said:

"Microsoft has made great strides with Office 365. The sleeping giant awoke two years ago...We have seen a major shift in the maturity of Microsoft's cloud-based products. They seem to be gaining a lot of traction."

Analyst Zeus Kerravala from ZK Research points out that Google Apps isn't as fully featured as Microsoft's offerings because it can't act as a PBX replacement as can Lync from Microsoft. In addition, Google Docs lags behind the power features offered by Microsoft Office.

That Computerworld article mirrors what analyst research is finding: Office dominates, especially in the enterprise. A recent Forrester Research study found that Microsoft Office 2010 is used in 85% of companies surveyed, Office 2007 by 51%, and Office 2003 by 28%. (Many companies use multiple versions of Office.) The survey found that Google Docs is used by only 13% of companies.

As for iWork, it never was much of a competitor, and now it's none at all. iWork was recently upgraded, and Apple did such a poor job of it that some iWorks users are giving it up for Office. In the upgrade, Apple dumbed-down iWorks considerably, and iWorks users have been flooding the Apple support forums with complaints. Among the features Apple killed were the outline view, facing pages, being able to save in RTF format, and over 100 templates.

Given the woes of Google Apps and iWork, Microsoft Office looks as if it will remain dominant for many years to come.

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