Sometimes I feel Like I am a Cheerleader for Google
To be honest, I am an open-source (Linux and Mozilla) type of guy. This is mainly based on principle and the belief in an open, collaborative World Wide Web. That aside, I realize that the big three tech companies (Microsoft, Apple, and Google) offer products with advanced features that are hard to avoid or ignore. I love my smartphone that runs Firefox OS and my Ubuntu OS laptop, but the Metro UI in Windows 8 and the voice search capabilities of Android rock my world.
Briefly, Apple and Microsoft were two of the earliest contenders in the personal computing market. Since the early 1980’s, they have had both software and hardware offerings on the market. Apple sold home computers with their Unix-based operating systems and Microsoft sold its Windows operating systems to computer manufacturers such as IBM. Microsoft’s hardware offerings came somewhat later and were in the form of keyboards and other accessories. They ramped up hardware offerings in the late 1990’s with the Xbox game console and more recently with the Windows Surface.
Traditionally, Microsoft dominated the market for operating systems and office suites for home and enterprise. Apple specialized in products that catered to design firms and offered premium products for home users. Google was founded in 1998 as a search engine for the web. They slowly grew as they began to sell pay-per-click ads and diversified their product offerings. They began to offer a free web browser (Google Chrome) and web-based cloud services, such as Google Docs (now Google Drive). They have evolved to a company that now offers its own Linux-based operating systems for both computers (Chrome OS) and mobile phones (Android).
Microsoft Takes On Google
The introduction of an operating system and office suite by Google seemed to be perceived by Microsoft as a direct challenge to their superiority in those areas. In the meantime, Apple gained market share with a premium product line that caters to those with resources and those who want the best user experience and most reliable software with an array of advanced features. Apple seems to have cult status and has a strong set of devoted customers who would never consider any product that is not manufactured by Apple.
Microsoft has slowly lost market share as Apple and Google have gained. This is mainly due to the traditional nature Microsoft’s software offerings. Many of their applications have lacked tie-ins to cloud computing and the Internet Explorer browser has been traditionally late in adopting new features and web standards. Since Microsoft appears to be acutely aware that they will probably never steal a lot of customers from Apple, they have set their sites on Google.
Productivity and Office Applications
There are two primary office suites that are worth comparing in terms of the “Big 3”
- Microsoft Office 365
- Google Drive
Apple Pages and Dropbox?
Dropbox and pages don’t offer cloud document editing, so I am not going to add them to this comparison. I want to compare two similar products, and Office 365 and Drive share the most similarities. Google Drive allows from real-time editing, making collaboration simple. It also has a simple user interface and a litany of associated web services, from email to web conferencing, as outlined at the Google Apps for Business website.
Microsoft offers similar features and services, but their online web apps do not yet support real-time editing and their software is less browser-based. You can edit Google Docs offline, as you can with Microsoft’s Office apps, but Microsoft Office is the recognized standard for the format of corporate documents. This is where Google Drive loses. Sometimes when you edit Office files and save them, they don’t format properly and you simply need Office to format them properly.
I could go on and on about the “Big 3” tech companies, but I will quickly wrap things up. I think that each of the three have their own optimal use case scenarios. In my opinion, Apple simply offers the best, most feature-rich, and simplest operating systems and hardware on the market. They have computers, phones, and tablets that set the standard for design and operation in the tech sector. Google has mastered the web. They offer web services and software unrivaled by any other company. Microsoft owns office applications and enterprise systems. I think Microsoft can do much more as they move toward more web applications and as they polish their Office 365 web apps. I also think that the introduction of Windows 8 as an operating system for both tablets and computers was forward thinking and genius. They should capitalize on that offering and build out their browser-based services in order to gain a competitive advantage.