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Will Google Win When Microsoft Kills Office 2000?

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microsoft-office-logoMicrosoft (s MSFT) will stop issuing security updates and patches for Microsoft Office 2000 as of June. It’s Microsoft’s policy to support its business software products for up to 10 years after their release, according to ComputerWorld, and then users have to pony up for the latest upgrade if they want to keep their machines secure. For home users, that means a cost of $149.95 for Office 2007. But instead of moving up to Office 2007 or the upcoming Office 2010, I wonder if a significant number of Office users will instead turn to programs such as Google (s GOOG) Apps Docs or Zoho?

Confession time. On all of my home PCs we use Office 2000. Most of my friends do, too. Why? Because it came out when we were in college, and we were able to buy it for cheap at the student computer stores with our IDs. We then loaded it on machines that we were too cheap to put the latest version of Office onto. When Office XP and Office 2003 came out, the price tag was far too hefty, especially for my group of tech-savvy friends who had pretty much stopped paying for software and were instead using shareware and free content from the web.

I rarely use Office anymore on my PC, preferring instead to use Google Apps Docs , Gmail, and apps like SlideRocket for presentations.  For converting Microsoft files, there are programs like DocVerse.  However, for two-thirds of my personal computing, I’m dealing more with programs that handle video and photos rather than spreadsheets and term papers. So if Microsoft’s update leads more consumers to choose Google Apps Docs, that just means fewer file conversions for me to deal with. Any other Office 2000 users out there who are thinking of abandoning Redmond?

44 Responses to “Will Google Win When Microsoft Kills Office 2000?”

  1. In service industries, I see free software/web software gaining ground like mad. Especially when you have grassroots organizations founded to try to directly solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, they can’t afford to drop hundreds of dollars on software. When you break it down, you can feed a child for a year in many places for less than the cost of one copy of MS Office. For some, that may not matter, but for others, one child out of over six billion is still more important than having the newest, most secure MS offering.

    It’s also helpful to be able to show up to any new potential job and be able to accomplish what you need to do without asking that organization to spend a dime on software for you. When you have a solid portfolio of Joomla! websites, GIMP edited imagery, and Google Apps tricks, it’s hard to find a service organization that doesn’t give your application a much more serious look. Sure, in this day and age, make sure you know how to work with the corporate giants’ software (but let’s be honest–who under the age of 35 doesn’t?), but why waste even comparatively small amounts of money?

    What would the world look like if we stopped measuring cost in terms of dollars and cents and started thinking about the cost in terms of pictures of the people who get to live another day because we weren’t wasteful? I may be a dreamer, but at least I still have a dream.

  2. As I see it, the major flaw in the article’s argument is assuming that all the different available software packages are static. Office 2007 is a big improvement over earlier versions (once you figure out the new interface), and newer versions will also improve. Also, if you need the advanced features in Office (page layout in Word, fancy graphics or complicated spreadsheets in Excel, a relational database like Access, and Outlook for email and contact management), Office is still the most economic commercial version around.

    What I think will happen is that we will continue to see more fragmentation of the market. Google Docs and Zoho are good, simpler interfaces and will attract more people as they feel more comfortable with not having the applications on their own computers. For my use, Office will continue to be preferred until Google and others can create a usable relational database and a good page layout program. Granted MS Publisher badly needs an upgrade and an interface tweak, but there’s nothing I’ve seen online which can match it or other layout programs.

    Likewise, open source suites will also take a greater chunk of the user base as people become more comfortable with them.

    Office will continue to be used in larger offices, as long as IT departments want to support one type of office suite and feel more comfortable with the security of their own networks than with cloud computing. In my opinion, Microsoft’s Achilles’ heel is in the area of graphics suites (like Adobe’s — also a high end and high price commodity) and in collaboration.

    Where everybody wins is in choice. One prediction I think you can safely make is that the market will continue to splinter. Microsoft won’t go out of business anytime soon. If their market share drops too much, all they have to do is lower prices a modest amount. For those who can make do with open source or online software, they will also have better choices. The key determinants will be features, security, collaborative-ness, and ease of use, not who is paying for the coding for the software.

    The other flaw in the article’s arguments is assuming that the number of computer users is static, a zero-sum game. As more people use the web and use computers at both home and work (and the library and the café, not to mention smartphones), all the different software platforms could grow their user bases.

    • Michael

      I agree. At work IT says use MS and we do. And it’s still very good, right? e.g. integration with Visio, going to give OneNote a spin and so on. Not going away any time soon.
      Meanwhile at home on the PC, running XP. Still useful.
      But on the netbook, it’s Linux baby, Ubuntu all the way! and ooO. I love not paying, being legit, and tapping into the open movement.
      So Andy, yes, as Chairman Mao said, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.”
      ; )

  3. As a financial consultant and a very tech savvy user.
    Not gonna happen, for a power user Excel trumps all.

    I could see word and maybe powerpoint going away. But not Excel or Outlook.

  4. I think MS Office ist going back to the office :-) In SOHO-environments the price tag of MS Office is rather hefty. Though MS sees this and reacts. The Student and Home editions get cheaper and now contain three licences for you family.

    And well I tried Google Docs, but I think it’s a kludge. OpenOffice ist far better. If you don’t need the sharing features of Google Docs there is no reason to use it.

  5. When I hear/read about people having difficulty with Google Doc’s, I have to remind myself that they are probably using a PC. I find the functions of Google Doc’s to work quite well using OSX and Firefox, (Safari couldn’t access all the editing features). The great thing about Google products is they continue to develop, so the person who had trouble with Google Doc’s, 3 months ago, might find it works for them today.

  6. The move to Google Docs is on. Gdocs is very popular in the Bay Area startup community but not because of price. It’s because in many respects, Gdocs is better! The sharing features are powerful. The Gdocs feature sets are adequate for most knowledge works. The whole idea that employees at large corporations are sophisticated Office users is laughable.

    But depending on how it is implemented, the real driver of migration to Gdocs could be the Windows 7 Basic 3 app limitation.

  7. Forone

    In functionality, Google Docs can only legitimately be compared to MS Works, which is more than enough for casual home users and most cottage industry, but not sophisticated enough for mid to large cap enterprise customers. Home users who buy MS Office do so because they need it for complete interoperability with workplace installations and they will not be driving co-workers crazy trying to convert Office files to some other application. Writers who blather on about how great Google Docs or even Open Office is for their letters to Grandma or household budgets or work-from-home businesses are missing the point.

  8. Jason

    Stacey, the fact that you can’t get security updates or patches after June doesn’t mean that Office 2000 will just stop working, does it? So you can happily continue to use it, as I expect anyone who currently is, will.

    Office 2000 even supports the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats, so if docx/xlsx/pptx files start to proliferate, you are still ok.

  9. Aaron

    I experimented with Google Spreadsheets in an attempt to get better looking charts from some spreadsheets that I would categorize as “medium complexity”. I’ll conclude this: If their charting functionality is any indication of other Google Docs features, then I don’t think people will be migrating from Office anytime soon. Seriously, I was kind of shocked at how crappy it was. This was about 3 months ago.

  10. people on tight budgets buy used computers. it is alomost unheard of to buy a computer in in a small used computer shop or from craigslist that does not already have a pirated copy of office 2007 preinstalled. personally i put openoffice on computers i sell. i lose at least half my potential customners because(every other computer they checked has office 2007 enterprise and they will except no less)

  11. Like you I couldn’t justify the cost of Office/Word for my personal machines so I never upgraded to 2k3, etc. But unlike you I gave up on dragging my old copy along (I can’t remember if my last legit copy was 97 or 2k) and switched to back around 1.0. I’d actually used StarOffice on Linux boxes earlier than that, so the switch to OOo was fairly simple for me. I’ve been using it ever since and have never felt the need for MS-Office/Word. I even used it at work for years, despite having MS-Office on my work box, just to see if I could – and rarely had an issue. No one ever noticed I wasn’t using MS-Office for the docs I sent out.

  12. Aside from being the cool new thing, why would Office 2000 users go to Google Docs? Why wouldn’t they go to OpenOffice? Or is that not cool enough for you and the other people using an 8 year old piece of software?

  13. Just because you use Office 2000, doesn’t mean others do too. Plus, Google Docs will have to beat Office 97 first in terms of functionality before aiming at other versions of Office.
    Honestly, blog posts like this one are jokes. It’ll be a cold day in hell, when Google Docs will ACTUALLY be able to beat Office ( desktop OR web). Period.

    • Pete Austin

      I agree that Office 97 was pretty good, but fortunately for Google Docs it is no longer supported by MS. Competing with later versions is rather simpler.

  14. Shadow

    Google docs is barely even serviceable. It’s more an HTML hack than a serious collection of tools. Is this posting a joke? Seeing things like this highlight the difference between journalism and blogs.

    • maristi

      Seriously? We use it for all our internal documents at my small business. I would never try to use the G spreadsheet for complex financial models, but for our basic needs it works great. We especially love that employees in FL and CA can work on the doc at the same time and see what each other is doing.

      I feel that this is such a generational thing: In a recent job I had to use Outlook and I hated that piece of junk, but all the old-timers loved it.

    • Michael

      Gosh Shadow, do you have to be so dismissive? If she weren’t asking a good question, there wouldn’t be so much interest in discussing it. You are the one who is looking the polemic twit that so bogs down the web. With all due respect.

  15. For a range of people, sharing docs with them is actually easier with Office than with Google Docs. Weird, but I know a lot of people who refuse to get a Gmail account, get it but then lose their login info, etc., and so won’t share Google docs. These same people will happily read Word attachments.

    Eventually, online docs should win. But I’d pay to upgrade Office if I were you.

  16. Won’t happen. As someone in the comment thread alluded to, the cost of office spread over several years is probably as cheap as getting it for free.

    Businesses will NOT go with open office purely because the vast majority of enterprises, especially the ones i work for, invest in MSOffice because of the integration it affords across all the other MS products (sharepoint ,exhcnage, biztalk etc etc).

    For a bussines its clear the benefits of the enterprise office ecosystem.

    For the consumer you will see over the comming years an equally compelling ecosystem arise.

  17. i think open office is a more likely candidate. the reason is that most of the people i know still using 2000 do not have great internet conections(mostly mobile broadband or just free wifi spots)

  18. Clarence

    Do you still remember wordstar, wordperfect, lotus 1-2-3 time? Make those document compatible with each other is hell job. End up we need to buy and install those application in order to deal with our clients.

    Looks, we dont have the problem to exchange document in today world because we are using the similar platform. User do not need to check what type of document people send to them. Work is so efficient.

    If I can perform better using office, get my proposal right on time and presentable, presentation is fantastic and worksheet get up to date figure and chart is populated. This is how we get the work done.

    Openoffice still great and Google docs is perfect, but why those HP, IBM, engineers are using Office when they do presentationon stage ? What about Lotus Symphony

    Work smart. Some people just want FREE software simply they don’t wish to pay for it.

  19. Michael

    You obviously don’t have any business clients. Nobody, and i mean nobody, in business even think about trying save a few bucks by skipping on MS Office. Can you imagine putting your business at risk by not being able to (properly) read/modify client’s documents or having to request your client to switch to Open Office or Google Doc? Plus, you don’t really save any money because you lose a lot of productivity when you switch. First because other products are inferior. Second, people are already familiar with MS Office.

    • Chris

      It is not much to ask that documents be saved and transmitted using open standards.
      MS Office has the option to save using a number of open standard document formats, people just need to use them. There is no reason not to use them.

      It is sheer collective idiocy that keeps businesses (and users) returning to Microsoft products over and over again. Think about every workstation in an enterprise (hundreds of machines) running Open Office rather than Microsoft Office. Even if the Managers and IT people had MS Office to convert documents back and forth, that is a lot of money saved. That money can be spend on other, productive uses; like, paying employees enough to provide a decent standard of living for their families. What a concept.

      The moral of the story is that the alternatives work just as well as the Microsoft equivalent and are just as user friendly. It is not like we are asking people to use GNU Emacs + LaTeX.

      • Ken Jackson

        You people clearly don’t get the economics of business. This is something that Microsoft does understand pretty well. As a small business owner let me lay down some of my costs:
        I have employees that have a base salary around $100k/year. On top of that we give a good benefits package including healthcare. That’s about another $20k/year. When they start they get an HP desktop ($700), two 22″ Dell monitors ($600), and a Lenovo T500 laptop ($1200). So as you can see we’re shelling out quite a bit of money on each employee. It’s critical that they’re efficient.

        Now you think we’re going to be cheap on their email/spreadsheet/wordprocessor/presentation software? Given that we would buy a new version of Office every 5 years… lets say the cost is $300 per employee. That is $60/year. That is $1.50/week. They’re making $2000/week. That’s less than 1/10th of 1% of their cost!

        Now we’ve found Office to be the best Office suite on the market. Now if it wasn’t we wouldn’t get it. But since it is, I think it’s worth the cost. The incremental cost is very little in our cost structure, and if it saves an employee 1 hour per year it’s already worth it (for example have you tried using Data Pilots on a cube with thousands of measures… not and you lost your hour right there).

    • handles MS-Office documents just fine. I’ve used OOo in a work environment for years, just because I can, and no one has ever noticed that I wasn’t using MS-Office. The only component that is hard to part with in a corporate environment is Outlook, Thunderbird just doesn’t have all the features and integration. But Word/Excel/Powerpoint? Easily replaced with OOo.

      Inferior? Having used OOo for many years now, I find it superior in many ways.

  20. Talmage Vick

    Here we go again, death of Office, insert headline, yawn.
    1. Office on the web is coming and ad funded. (check)
    2. Google Docs has security that makes the Maginot Line look impregnable (check)
    3. Docs is a meat grinder on anything i upload, Openoffice docs, Office docs beware, you lose content…forever…. (check)
    4. Google Docs has less features than NotePad (check)
    5. Journalist from the Valley who probably once wrote about a sock puppet ( and Web Grocery shopping were going to change us all….(double check)

    • maristi


      I thought you were making a decent case until I got to 4: less features than Notepad? That’s a little too much sarcasm to take you seriously. Since when does Notepad have concurrent editing? revision history with diffing? bookmarks, comments, tables, TOC, headers and footers, styles?

      Now I’m not sure I should believe anything else in your post. For example I’ve been hearing about this office on the web thing for two years so, where is it? Smells like vaporware.

  21. Stacey Higginbotham

    Krishna, I fixed the Google Docs, but I paid far less than $90 for my student version of Office 2000. It was closer to $20 or $25 if I recall. You’re right that I could find Office 2007 for cheaper than Microsoft’s listed price, but it’s still more than I want to pay. As for the logical flaw, I’m not expecting it to happen — I’m asking if anyone else thinks it may happen. You obviously don’t :)

    • Hi Stacey

      Actually you can get Office 2007 Home and Student even cheaper, at about $80. That’s roughly half of your originally stated cost. AND, it licenses you to run it on 3 PCs…

      Is $26/PC too much to pay for the richness of Office for 7 years?


  22. Krishna Chodavarapu

    There are a number of mistakes in this article. First, the Home and Student version of Office 2007 routinely sells for $100 (or even $90)

    Second, you keep referring to Google Docs as Google Apps (which is the custom domain google app hosting service i.e. gmail, google docs, etc).

    But more importantly is the logical flaw. What was so special about Office 2000? Was there a gigantic uptake of people using MS Office at that version? MS still sells a cheap (being relative of course) version of office 2007 ultimate to students. So you can argue that the real transition should take place 10 years from now.

    I think the argument is as flawed as expecting a dramatic rise in Linux use 10 years from Win2k release.

  23. nebcfsj

    I agree that to chase the new software just to have it is not a great idea for the average folks.

    As a consultant doing reports to government and the oil and gas industry however, I am bound by supplying product that is within a narrow standard – Office 2007 or at the very least 2003 or else.

    I like the products but for personal use on several newer systems I am using the latest Open Office software and recent versions are suprisingly good and quite robust as well.

    As for the claim that if you do not use the latest MS Office or latest Windows Operating system goes however, I think that is hogwash. What the OS does not do for me, Norton360 and PC Doctor along with my Sonicwall Firewall will continue to provide all the security I need, and it will not be by running the latest VISTA OS.
    OSX maybe…and I am always a curious type so may try some future release beyond Beta, of Windows 7…but I doubt very much any decision to upgrade to a newer Operating System will have anything at all to do with security.

  24. John Gullies

    ” especially for my group of tech-savvy friends who had pretty much stopped paying for software and were instead using shareware and free content from the web.”

    Shareware and free content? Please. More like pirated CDs and bittorrent.

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      I have never pirated software, nor have I ever run BitTorrent beyond playing with it for an article. Heck, I even buy my music legally.

    • Yes, one can manage using entirely free software.

      An excellent example is myself. I haven’t actually purchased software in a long time, simply because I get along just fine on GNU/Linux and all the free, open-source applications that can be installed on it.

    • I fully agree with you. Open Office is an excellent option. Besides, it will make a transition to any Linux Distribution easier (people might feel quite tempted to do so!)

      In my office, the last ms Office bought, was 2000… Now we are turning to Linux with OpenOffice.

      We expect to cut costs and downtime of the systems by doing so.