Microsoft Office 2013: Back in the Game
Microsoft is coming back in a big way. This announcement will give many organizations significant food for thought as they map their directions.
Over the last few years, the Microsoft market position has been challenged, but last week Microsoft stepped up and showed how it is going to fight for the hearts of business over the next few years. While there was some mention of Windows 8, the real focus is on the Office productivity suite and the new vision of Microsoft across the range. A few key directions that seemed to be indicated in the announcements:
* While Microsoft has previously discussed the range of OS options across pocket-ables, carry-ables, and desktops, the Office 2013 announcement focused on the productivity apps and their value. Does this indicate a focus in Microsoft above the OS going forward? The focus on user experience optimization for applications across the device form factors indicates a strong focus in Microsoft to be the vendor of the next generation of "universal" applications. If Microsoft can extend this to headless apps using HTML5 & WebRTC and across different Operating Systems, they may have a leadership position in the emerging true cloud computing model where the device is just a presentation of the information/media. Further, with these announcements and the Windows 8 announcements, Microsoft joins Apple as the only company having a true "ménage a trois" of solutions--for pocket-able, carry-able, and desktop. For more on this, read my posting on UCStrategies.
* Integration of the productivity components including real-time collaboration continues to be a major focus for Microsoft. While they did not emphasize this as much in this announcement, the integration of Lync and the new 2013 Office is sure to be enhanced with the next Lync wave (Wave 15). For organizations with a strong Microsoft device and productivity focus, this will continue to increase the value of Lync.
* Office 2013 shows a strong focus on maximizing the deployment options between cloud and premise. With Office 2013 and Office 365, Microsoft is truly breaking down the barriers, both from an interoperability perspective and from an acquisition decision. As most organizations are looking at a hybrid adoption of cloud (users both on premise and in the cloud), this focus seems to align with business goals.
* They announced initial steps at extending the Lync federation leadership. Users have been taking advantage of the federation capabilities built into Lync; there are over 9,700 companies in the Lync Federation Directory and that is probably the tip of the iceberg. With the announcement of federation to Skype users, albeit with limited initial functionality, Microsoft is clearly indicating that it intends to create a federation market where companies with hybrid, cloud only and Skype consumers can come together easily, and collaborate beyond the phone call. I would expect rapid enhancement of the Skype integration and increased premise to cloud value.
My conclusion is that Microsoft is coming back in a big way, especially for business. The Apple ménage a trios advantage generally came with a high purchase price; the Microsoft version comes with open hardware options and generally results in lower pricing. But what really sets Microsoft apart is the application coverage across all three form factors and user experiences. This announcement will give many organizations significant food for thought as they map their directions and strategic decisions.