Google Apps Taking a Bite Out of Microsoft’s Office Business

You don't have to look far to find pundits that'll deny it, but you have to wonder if Microsoft is feeling threatened. Despite owning a colossal share of the desktop OS market -- a fact that isn't likely to change in our lifetimes -- the company's other facets aren't so well-grounded. Outside of the successful Xbox franchise, Microsoft's other two profits drivers are facing very serious competition. On the tablet front, Windows isn't gaining enough steam to make a real dent in Apple's iPad dominance, and on the phone front, Windows Phone is still in the single-digits in terms of market share even after being announced almost three years ago.

And then, there's Office. This was also a practical guarantee in terms of revenue for Microsoft. Every PC basically needed it, and every enterprise essentially had to pony up for it. It was the cash cow to end all cash cows. But what if the world is becoming one where Office isn't vital any longer? That has to be a scary thought for Microsoft and its shareholders, but it's becoming less of a thought and more of a reality. Google's Docs suites is completely free, and even the Apps for business suite is incredibly cheap compared to an Office suite. Toss in the fact that Google's suite has beautiful online collaboration support, and one has to wonder how much longer they'll genuinely need Office.

After some six years on the market, Google's Apps is starting to crossover from start-ups to larger enterprises. As with the Chromebooks entry into enterprise, Google has managed to secure the business of Swiss drug maker Hoffmann-La Roche and at the Interior Department. At both of these places, nearly 100,000 employees have grown used to using Google instead of Office.

Google Calendar App, Google Docs

Google's business apps cost just $50/year per user, and the company is adding features like crazy to justify the small fee. It supports a wide array of languages and thrives in the cloud, where essentially every enterprise now lives. Microsoft's charging nearly $400 for its suite, which doesn't include integrated e-mail support. Analysts are suggesting that Google's efforts are "gaining traction," and that's bad news for Microsoft. The company's cloud efforts in the Office suite have been lackluster at best, and compared to Google -- which was born in the cloud and on the Internet -- it's unlikely it'll ever catch up.

So, what about you? Have you ditched Office for Google? Would you if you could?