Another day, another Microsoft lie

You can count on Microsoft pulling the fake research report trick at least once a year. It's always the same. They'll report some result that makes them look good and/or their competition look bad from an 'independent' source, but not mention that they paid for the results, had their own people do the report, and usually manage the research. This time around it's a study by ClickStream Technologies, which found Microsoft Office, to be far more popular than OpenOffice.org, which in turn was far more popular than Google Docs. What Microsoft doesn't mention is that ClickStream is headed by Microsoft's former head of Microsoft Office research. Very independent, eh?

Boycott Novell did some digging about this latest Microsoft study, and found, just underneath the dirt's surface that ClickStream's senior research analyst is also a former Microsoft Corporation researcher and strategist for the Office product. If you buy that this study will say anything except what Microsoft wants it to say, I have some early-release, Detroit Lion SuperBowl tickets you might also want to buy. Cheap!

So why is Microsoft doing this? It's no secret that Microsoft Office is the most popular office suite around. I think that the goal is to make Google Docs look less significant than it really is. After all, while OpenOffice 3.0 is an excellent free and open-source office suite. Microsoft had held OpenOffice off with one hand tied behind its back. So, Microsoft doesn't worry about OpenOffice or its commercial versions, Sun's StarOffice and IBM's Symphony. Google Docs, that's another story.

Microsoft, and in particular Steve 'Why is this man still the CEO?' Ballmer, are obsessed by Google. I mean, Ballmer, with a straight face, even recently compared the fragile Microsoft David to the big, mean Google Goliath. In the case of Google Docs, Microsoft has real reason to worry. Google Docs represents a real threat to Microsoft Office and its revenue stream. If you haven't used it, you should give it a try. It's an excellent, light-weight office suite, and, unlike Microsoft Office, you can run it on Windows, Macs, Linux, or, if you're a glutton for punishment, you can even try to use it on some mobile phones.

What we have here is Microsoft, in its classic style, tries to sweep Google Docs under the rug with this study's 'proof' that Docs is an also-ran. While Microsoft hopes to thus freeze customers from giving Google Docs a try, it will gain more time to try to get its own Windows Live applications working better and for Windows 7 to arrive, which will require the use of online applications.

Will Microsoft get away with it? Well, if you believe what Microsoft tells you in its 'independent' studies, they'll have a better chance of it. Personally, I hope you keep in mind that Microsoft has been lying about the competition for decades now and that non-Microsoft products and services are often both cheaper and better than Microsoft's own. Sometimes, as in the came of both OpenOffice and Google Docs, they won't cost you a thin dime to try. So, no matter who you believe, I urge you to try both Microsoft Office alternatives for yourself. I think you'll like them.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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