About the business of Microsoft Office and why TDF’s projects are so important II – Strategy

As so many read the first part (you may find it here)

As the first part described the Office Open XML format, the history, we get a step back. Why is Microsoft Office so important still? It’s simple, because Microsoft knows what is best for their users (personally I like the ribbon-UI, but many don’t) and, this is from major importance, you are used to use it. You have been using it forever.

So yes, a reason why so many people are using it, is the laziness of many. Others might call that “never change a running system…

So let’s get young people used to office, so that they will pay forever. As long as you are a student, you can get MS Office for 20$ a year (You have to pay 80$ for 4 years), or if your university relies on MS Office, you can even get it for free. Good choice for Microsoft.

There is one thing I learned in strategy, it is a formula, but it is not quite Mathematics.

First Steps x Vision x Discontent > Resistance [This is not my idea]. If this is true, you are ready for a change. Okay first steps are easy, download LibreOffice ;). So what’s about the vision? Access your content, although the subscription ended? Seems like a good choice… Discontent: Do you dislike the current situation? Is the discontent high enough in order to learn something new (adapt the new software).There is one thing what have this very formula and mathematics in common. If you have no vision, no first steps or no discontent you won’t change anything. I tried to help you to get the first steps and a vision, but is the discontent high enough before it is too late. Now you can export all your documents to ODF and seamlessly switch to LibreOffice. I guess for many people, which bought a licence for Microsoft Office are soon shocked, as they are forced to pay to continue using them [Yes, I believe not everyone did get that licence model]. The bad thing the average end user, who does not know of this blog or LibreOffice or any other office software will be extremely annoyed, but the formula will look like this: 0 [What can I do to change this] x 100 [I can use this software for a lifetime and it is not my antivirus [I do understand why those need a subscription] x 100 [I am very angry at Microsoft] > 1000  [A magic number, which represents if a change happens. To cut it short: 0 > 1000 -> false –> no change is going to happen.


So the strategy is like that [AFAIK] : In young years free courses should be offered to the children, which should learn how to use office [“Informatics lessons” at school with “How to format a Word document”. Later they want a cheap or free office. You can use the formula from above again. You can use the software you have learned and worked with at a relative low price, you are very productive using it and you love all the features it has. Are you discontent? No, so you won’t change  your office suite. You might have third-party tools (Addins), which are only compatible with Microsoft Office, so why should you change. At the end of the university, (In Europe getting from 0 -> Master takes at least 10 semesters, 5 years), you paid 160$ (or 0$) to Microsoft, used the latest feature richest version and received as well as created a huge amount of documents. Now you have no discount any more, office costs 69$ per year. The price increased by 250%. Would you stick to MS Office [which they believe you would do] or would you change your office suite? The strategy is very good, will you play along? Looking foerward to hear your comments :)

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3 thoughts on “About the business of Microsoft Office and why TDF’s projects are so important II – Strategy”

  1. Love to read “unbiased” LO vs MSO blogposts (especially by TDF members or contributors). Waste of time as you just can’t compete with open source software and LO always will win in such “home user, typical Joe Doe” comparisons (because it is mistakenly referenced as “free” – nobody is taking into account the wasted time or compromises). Why are you picking up what is good for your thesis and keep writing just about Office365 subscription offers and not standalone installs or the best deals like Office for 5 computers and 5 tablets for whole family just for 10$ a month with Skype credit included? It is a silly few cents per device daily if you have big household. Haven’t wrote a word that you will get free Windows 8 and free Office for your small tablet, which connected to monitor/keyboard/mouse is really a new kind of personal computer nowadays. You will get free Office mobile apps with your Windows Phone. Not mentioning free Office Online, which together with outlook.com, onedrive account and a browser is all you will ever need. Whenever you are and have Internet access. Of course you propose “seamless” switch from MSO formats to LO’s with less features, interoperability problems (disappearing or uneditable SmartArt, PowerPivot, PowerCharts) etc. Do not forget, that Windows+Office (and moreover other MS technologies as Active Directory, Exchange, Lync, Sharepoint etc.) are de facto standards in major enterprises/corporations where young people want to work after study. If you have just very good LibreOffice knowledge in your resume then you are doomed seeing the whole Office environment thing (the same is with Linux learning vs Windows working). Sure, there are successful free OS&Apps deployments, but it is unfortunately a margin. Also LO is not for everyone, as plenty of software just don’t work with it and everything works with Office (putting Office own version problems aside). The war is ended. MS won. Anyway I watch LO development and am glad that it is getting new features (sometimes too new to test them properly) and interoperability is better with every branch. Unfortunately for LO one day office suites as we know it won’t be needed – all you would need will be a browser to use software it the cloud, be it Office Online, Google Docs or… LibreOffice Online.

    1. Hi :)
      Did I ever say anything about me being unbiased. Oh, it’s said that we cannot compete with open-source software. Could you please name which you mean? It is free as in “You are free to leave, if you dislike it”. If you have started with Microsoft Office it is much more difficult to get rid of. You are right, but that’s like “1 for 7$, 5 for 10$”. Would you think the price for one is good? Taking Skype into account, that is called “cross-selling”, which means: Bundle products in order to make it more difficult to compare prices.

      I do have to agree, that if you see the 10 dollar fee for 10 devices this would make 1$ per device. Okay stop now and be honest to yourself: Would you buy a app, which costs 1$ a month?

      Okay, speaking of Windows 8 and tablets….. Can you explain me why there is a desktop mode ONLY for Microsoft Office in Windows for ARM / Windows RT or whatever they call it at the moment…..

      Wow, I buy a Nexus 7 and get a free Windows 8 licence and Office :O [Read what you wrote]. True is, that device manufacturers get the licence for free. Windows RT itself comes with Office, as well as new iOS-based products does.

      Okay, you trust Microsoft that much.that you will save every document in their cloud, although you just got it attached to an email? You will trust Microsoft to back your files up, the US and your home country not to cut off the internet at some point, or your ISP that your internet will be there whenever you need to work or other spying at you (not looking at you NSA),

      The transition away from MS Office is easy as long you have office. If they are unable to export to ODF properly (they would be unwise, if that worked too well), you cannot blame LibreOffice :) )

      So why it is a de-facto standard? Have a look at the formula above and you will see, that the discontent is too less (at the moment, who knows ^^) for many to change.

      Just a very short comment to Linux: You are unfair, for DAU Ubuntu is better than Windows (installed it on a laptop from my uncle, comparing Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows Vista).

      You are correct in writing that compatibility with third-party apps is a problem, but for us it is difficult to change something here….

      Finally I do not think the battle is lost just now, I guess we are just at the beginning. As pointed out above, desktop office suites will never loose their importance!

      Looking forward to hearing from you :)

  2. From my experience, a large amount of people use MS Office because they get it for free (downloading it from online or pirated dvd from a friend) or close to free (purchasing a pirated dvd or having a local computer store install on their computer). This is pretty much the standard in poor countries and common in wealthy countries. So with the ability to get MS Office for cheap and the limited awareness of open source alternatives in those locations, there would be no discontent from these users to look for alternatives. And with MS Office dominating such markets, their ooxml format will continue to thrive.

    I personally think LibreOffice should take a page from Firefox OS and focus alot on the poorer markets to liberate them from having to use/pirate proprietary office software suites. With more of them using LibreOffice, the more of them will use and promote ODF.


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