Applications, Data, Or Access?

...the important battlefield is not the application. It's the data. (Source: ZDNet, Google Drive will help kill Microsoft Office)

I agree it's more about the data than it is about the applications.

But I think beyond just the data, it's the ability to access the data - for me, my partners, my clients, etc.

I've been using Google Docs for a long time and have grown accustomed to it's simplicity and ease of access. When I want to document something, then share it out, it's really simple to do that. With the addition and integration of Google Hangout, sharing and collaborating is literally a click away.

I recently tried Office 365 from a small business perspective.

It's good, especially if Microsoft Office is where you spend your time documenting and analyzing and presenting. It does integrate with Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, etc. It even helps take your desktop Office files and bring them onto the web, or in the cloud.

The issue I had was that it was too much. Yes, I know I've been brainwashed into simplicity and since I've been primarily using Google Docs (and the iWork package) for my needs, I haven't kept up with Microsoft Office.

But it was too much. I didn't want to spend time setting up and managing all these different parts. I just wanted it to work.

A few gripes I had during the trial period:

  • Collaborate: The ability to collaborate was really hard. Or confusing. I tried to work through a document with a partner a few times but it had to go through SharePoint. I wasn't able to collaborate within the document, or share the document itself. And I think I needed to install something into Word and point the Save As to this location. I'm confused thinking back to how it all worked. (Disclaimer: I was a SharePoint admin at one point and this certainly colors my view of SharePoint today.)
  • Lync: Oh dear. We were using the Mac version of Lync, along with the iPhone / iPad apps. It worked really well. Video, audio, screen sharing. Worked like a charm. When it worked. Most of the time (on the Mac), the thing just crashed in the middle of a conversation. If I used the in-browser app, I wouldn't receive notifications that a message was received.
  • Mobile: Mobile was better. Exchange piece hooked into the iOS easily. And reminders synced easily with tasks. If only Microsoft integrated their Office apps to iOS like they did with Exchange.

When I moved from the Microsoft world to the Apple world in 2006, I was amazed at how much more productive I became. Not because the laptop was faster or the applications were better. It's just that the entire thing worked. I didn't have to struggle connecting to a wifi spot. I didn't have to play with memory settings or cache sizes or video accelerations.

Things just worked.

I feel the same way now about Google Docs (and *most* other Google properties). Open a browser, create a document, share, be done. I'm tired of dealing with specs or versions or formats.

I'm not naive to think I know everything about Office and Microsoft's online platform. I don't. But I don't think it should be that difficult to get up and running.

Still, I want Office 365 to succeed. Competition is good and so is moving more people to the cloud.


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