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The office from the cloud

For many years, the Office package, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, was a basic requirement on every business computer. Following the emergence of alternative open source solutions, apps in the cloud are now also challenging the software giant’s monopoly in this arena.

Microsoft Office was long considered the de-facto standard in most companies and organizations. This was until more cost-effective open source solutions gained popularity and Google Apps provided new impetus to the competition as a package of web-based services that can easily be run from within the browser regardless of the location and the device used without complex program installation. To use Google Drive, you simply have to download a client to manage and synchronize the online resources on the various different devices. Google Drive includes the traditional core of office software and ensures that users can access their data from anywhere via Mac, PC or mobile device. “Documents”, “Spreadsheets” and “Presentations” are the most important tools for producing all types of documents and content. Google makes collaboration particularly easy for teams that do not share a single locations. Files can be released for reading, commenting or editing by other users via email, communication and cooperation with Google Calendar, Gmail and Hangouts.

Microsoft is now also providing its new Office package as a service in the cloud and has optimized it for mobile devices with touchpad usability. In addition to this, an entire bundle of online services are available based on Microsoft’s products for communication and collaboration, such as Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. Therefore freelancers and employees of small businesses can also work with web-based Outlook features for email management, which are usually reserved for larger companies. And while the Google applications are characterised by maximum ease of use, Microsoft provides a wealth of functional details as usual when it comes to formatting and layout in text, tables, and quality presentations.

Office 365 and Google Apps for Business are two full-fledged office software suites in the cloud. Users in Germany however are not yet comfortable with renting software as opposed to buying it. A survey of 1,000 people by the market research institute Innofact AG commissioned by Corel indicates that almost two-thirds (62 percent) of private software users would rather own it physically. Renting or subscribing to software from the cloud is an interesting option for only 1 percent. They are particularly dissuaded by ongoing fees and the disadvantage of no longer being able to use the software after expiry of the subscription or rental period.

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