2016 is the year Microsoft will make ground on Google for consumer cloud dominance, according to expert


Reports suggest that if you work for a large company, one that has been in existence for a while, looked after by a commensurately sized IT team, then the chances are you’ll be working with Microsoft’s Office 365 rather than Google Apps.

“Office 365 organizations are more than 4x larger and are five years older than Google Apps organizations,” says one 2015 report called Trends in Cloud IT: Dissecting Adoption Across Thousands of Organizations. At the same time if you work for a start-up the same report states that it’s likely you’ll be using Google’s office suite, for the simple fact that the young generation seems to be growing up on Google, while the older crowd has been using various iterations of Microsoft Office before most start-up entrepreneurs were a twinkle in their mother’s eyes.

This is a trend Microsoft is trying to change under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella. While Microsoft might have secured a place within the world’s larger corporations, the company is now vying to disrupt Google’s security with smaller companies and consumers alike.

In an interview with cloud collaboration expert David Lavenda, Co-founder and Vice President of Harmon.ie – a company that develops mobile collaboration tools for Microsoft in the enterprise sector – he explained something of Microsoft’s current position in what he called, ‘The Battle of the Cloud Titans’.

The hare and the tortoise

Lavenda said, “Microsoft has decisively planted the Office flag in the cloud. Rolling the dice on the cloud and using its hegemony in the Office productivity suite to battle new and old challengers alike, Microsoft is vying for supremacy in the cloud productivity software market.”

Comparing Microsoft to a tortoise in a race with hares, such as the likes of Google and Dropbox, it is Lavenda’s conviction that the eventual winner will be the slower starter.

“There is a new battle going on for the next platform,” Lavenda told SiliconANGLE, “and much of it dependent on the Office productivity suite.” Dropbox was quick out of the box, he said, and Google gained a lot of consumers very early. Google have been winning predominately with consumers, and Microsoft corporate, Lavenda says, “Whoever can win both over will be victorious.” He believes Microsoft will do just that.

The multi-billion dollar question

“It doesn’t make sense to use one set of tools at work, and one set at home,” said Lavenda, and so Microsoft, who has had much of its own way in the high-end corporate market, is now set on pulling for the consumer market. “Microsoft is heading off the competition at the lower-end,” Lavenda explained.

As to the question of generational trends, Lavenda agrees that kids will come out of college and want to use the tools they are used to working with, but he adds they must also use whatever the company dictates. If Microsoft can tie all the ends together, people will use the company’s tools. “One infrastructure,” he said, mentioning that when integration is complete it will make more sense staying with, or going back to Microsoft, than using products from Amazon or Dropbox, and even Google.

“It’s not just the million dollar question,” said Lavenda, “it’s the multi-billion dollar question!”

He admits that it will be hard to recapture many of the people who have already grown up on Google’s office apps, what he calls a simple, agile product. But he relates to the days of the first browser war when it looked at first that Netscape was indomitable, and in the end it was the Microsoft tortoise that plodded past its competitor.

“It’s too early to count Microsoft out,” Lavenda explained, adding, “Once Microsoft gets running usually it is quite formidable.” Here he invokes Satya Nadella’s mobile first, cloud first vision and something the CEO said at the Ignite conference relating to Microsoft’s cloud productivity aspirations:

“The only company that cares deeply about both individuals and organizations, and bringing them together to achieve transformation.”

“If you follow what’s coming out there’s a steady stream of products with new capabilities, such as Sway for example, and a tremendous amount of work going on at the backend,” Lavenda concluded.

In 2016 he expects we will see a change, “Not a massive shift, but Microsoft will have an impact.”

Photo credit: David Goehring via Flickr