Microsoft Decries 'Hidden Cost' of Google Apps

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News Posted: Fri, May 6 2011 3:12 PM
While the company has diversified into a range of products and services, Windows and Office remain Microsoft's major cash earners; the revenue from these massive areas is used to cover losses in segments like Internet use.This helps to explain why MS recently published a story on the hidden cost of migrating to Google Apps.

The company's assurances that it's only trying to help companies make a more informed decision is a poorly built facade for masking its own unease. Tom Rizzo writes: "No one would willingly give the IRS more than they owe, or submit to taxes they weren’t required to pay. So why is it that people and businesses allow themselves to be unfairly “taxed” by Google?  I have learned there are hidden costs when using Google Apps that are tantamount to paying a “tax".

Microsoft claims Google 'taxes' users $50 in one-time expenses and $495 in recurring annual costs. Half of this—$360←goes to pay for Google Apps Support Services.  Even if we accept Microsoft's position that this represents a hidden tax, Redmond is the last company that should throw mud. Microsoft's Software Assurance program forces companies to pay yearly license fees for the right to upgrade to the next version of Office at a reduced cost. Tellingly, it does not guarantee that an updated version will appear in any given year. Attempting to tar Google over support costs is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.


Your world, as Google sees it.

There are two additional fallacies in Microsoft's argument. First, the company assumes that the business in question is deploying a very advanced set of capabilities as opposed to installing Word and Excel with some basic file sharing. Second, it assumes that IT staff and employees are already completely trained on all of the relevant Office products.

Microsoft scores a few points when it comes to customer support (Google doesn't offer as many 24x7x365 options) but mostly drums up FUD . According to the company "Because Google Apps are entirely HTML-based, users can experience substantial formatting problems and potential data loss during data and document migrations and conversions." We agree with the bit about formatting trouble, though this can happen when moving between different versions of Office apps as well. Data loss is a bit much—we've yet to see a program jealously delete a saved file just because it was imported into a different program.

Redmond's fears may be well-founded. As a brand, 'Microsoft Office' evokes an image of single-user workstations, word processing, and spreadsheets. Microsoft's core programs assume, by default, that the user is working on their own. Google Apps, in contrast, assumes the end user is going to want to share this data with other people. One model isn't necessarily better than the other, but Google's application business, like its search business, is built around the concept of making data available to anyone who wants it. Office isn't—at least not with the same degree of simplicity.
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3vi1 replied on Fri, May 6 2011 5:36 PM

Gotta agree about the FUD in their documents/studies. But, I wouldn't expect anything less from a company that tries to tell you free software costs more. They're trying to poison the well before any other entity gets you to actually look at their product.

Microsoft wrote everything from the perspective of an organization that they've already locked-in to MS Office and one which needs to use every arcane service/extension it offers. They try to scare you into believing that your users can't possibly learn how to work any other office suite. Do they really think that people are buying MS Office for home use, or that kids exiting college haven't ever used Google's solutions (or OpenOffice either)?

The only thing to fear from using another office suite is that Microsoft will purposely break compatibility by changing their file format every version. And... they already do that. They also provide purposely broken support for the Open Document Format, which you can fix by purchasing a better import/export plugin from Oracle. So, stick with MS Office if you want to pay more, reward bad behavior, and generally inhibit the advancement of Office software suites such that you get the same app with a different GUI every 3 years.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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realneil replied on Fri, May 6 2011 10:00 PM

Although I own copies of Office from my work, Iv'e been using Open Office and Libre' Office for a while. They work just fine and save to all of the MS file formats.

Really, why pay what they want for MS Office?

Google Apps work fine in a pinch too.

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Have to agree with Joel Hruska that this MS letter about a so-called «Google tax» - why call the fees involved a «tax», save to invoke a word which seems to have become anathema in the United States ? - is a poor attempt to mask the company's own unease with regard to a business model whose best-before date has long since passed. Companies need no longer accept being locked in to and forced to pay exorbitant prices for Microsoft software. Google offers excellent cloud alternatives for those who want to go that route, and for those who don't, as realnell points out above, OpenOffice/LibreOffice are at least as servicable as MS Office and moreover, can be used on platforms with which the latter is not compatible. No wonder Microsoft is running scared !...

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Joel H replied on Sun, May 8 2011 2:56 PM

For the record, I truly do prefer products from MS (Word and Excel, specifically) after using the OpenOffice equivalents for over a year. This is most prevalent in Excel, where I love the graphing system introduced in Office 2007 (I loathed the version that shipped from 95-2003). I'd buy Excel (or the basic pack it ships with) just for the graphing engine--that's how much a difference it's made for me.

(As for them changing file format versions, that's not really true. I can't speak to how much the Excel format has changed, but the Word file format stayed the same from 1997 - 2006 (considering that Office 2007 came *out* in 2007). It's also still the second option for saving a file and it retains all basic information that the newer file format does.

i do agree, however, that Microsoft's cost analysis seems overstated. I'm sure it applies to some companies, but it's far from the average.

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3vi1 replied on Sun, May 8 2011 7:38 PM

>> I can't speak to how much the Excel format has changed

I can. I've used it exclusively in my work over the years, and every new version screams that if I save in the old format I'll lose features... though I don't spellcheck embedded powerpoints in Klingon, so I've not seen any such loss.

Having an undocumented binary file format for so many years was in and of itself a move to stop open access and competition. They only made information on it publicly available after it was reverse engineered.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Lakawak replied on Sun, May 8 2011 7:52 PM

By far the most whining *** ass article ever. Google doesn't give a *** about making information available. Their number one goal is the EXACT samething as Microsoft's. (And Apple, and Facebook, etc.) The maximize profits.

You didn't even refute anything that you claimed to be FUD.

Take Sergey and LArry's cocks out of your mouth before you lose what tiny bit of credibility you have left.

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