Microsoft Office is one of the few Microsoft products that consistently has had a huge following, and favourable reviews. After perfecting the word processor, the spreadsheet and the presentation with Office 1997, most of the later versions (till Office 2010) mostly focused on enhancing the user-experience with numerous template-features and UI improvements. But, hyperconnectivity with the advent of cloud computing, with Google Drive as the front bearer began to pose, perhaps the first, potent threat to this powerful productivity suite. The beauty of Google Drive lies not so much in the features it posits but the convenience it offers to its users, for free. Compatible with phones, tablets and desktops, Drive allows one to access, edit, save, create and email files from almost any system—pure cloud computing. Microsoft’s reply to this challenge has been impressive. Office 365, with a varied revenue model, cloud computing facilities and an even more enhanced UI at the least blunts Google’s threat. For a change, Office 365 would be available on subscription basis (base price $100/year) with computer compatibility depending upon the version one chooses (Home Premium to Small Business). The UI has further been enhanced--full of ribbon buttons designed for touch-screen usage. But, most importantly, Office 365, autosaves every any document or presentation—just like Google Drive—to Microsoft’s cloud service, SkyDrive. Users can then open the files from any computer they like (meaning, no emailing to yourself again); in case the system does not have Office, the ingenuous “Office on demand” acts as a temporary productivity suite for the system.
Yet, where Microsoft flounders is the price—$100 per year, for 5 computers may appeal to serious, white-collared professionals who use productivity suites heavily, but will probably matter little to others, who rely on basic functionality of word processors and spreadsheets, especially when such services are free online.