It’s no secret that Microsoft have been seeing their grip on the software market start to slide. It wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft Office was synonymous with business productivity software. It still is to a large extent, but there are a growing number of individuals and businesses looking elsewhere for their applications.

The same can be said for Windows as well. While PC and laptop sales have been slumping generally, what has been gaining market share in spades? Google Chromebooks, that’s what.

Microsoft’s cloud problem

So what is causing this downward trend for Microsoft? With the advent of cloud computing, people are switching away from ‘traditional’ applications and moving towards doing everything in the cloud. Web applications run in the browser and thanks to well established web standards this means they work just as well on all operating systems.

So it is entirely feasible to do everything you need from a Chromebook, or a Mac, or a Linux PC or Windows. The best bit, is that you can work on any or all of them and have exactly the same experience and data. There are no longer any limitations.

Great for the consumer, bad for Microsoft.

Late to the party

Microsoft do have cloud solutions in the form of Office 365 and OneDrive, but they face two major issues.

First of all, they were late to join the cloud party which already has some big players. Trying to squeeze into an established market is always difficult.

Secondly, Office 365 costs money. Microsoft simply cannot compete in the domestic market when the likes of Google and others are offering productivity software for free or next to nothing. Also there is a growing realisation that you do not need all the bells and whistles that Office 2013 or Office 365 offer, when all you want to do is write a simple letter, or create a simple spreadsheet.

What can Microsoft do?

Microsoft’s current business model needs to change. They may never be able to rule the roost again with an operating system and their salvation will have to be the applications they produce.¬†They are heading in the right direction with Office 365, but they aren’t quite there yet.

Microsoft will need to adapt and embrace cloud computing on all platforms. That means desktop clients for OneDrive and Office 365 that work on all computers, not just Windows. Also, entry level access to Office 365 would be a boon and may get more people hooked and paying for the full thing.

Published by Alan Stainer

After more than a decade as a Lotus Domino admin, Alan set up Alan's IT Solutions. A local business servicing the IT needs of SMEs and domestic clients in the south of England. The creative freedom of running a business led to the creation of Local Hive. A web based project aimed at raising the visibility of small businesses in their local communities, by creating a virtual high street. Alan also writes a column for the West Sussex County Times, giving people practical advice on computing.

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