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Should Microsoft Be Scared?

A report from Nielsen//NetRatings this week found that Google Docs and Spreadsheets is leading the market in the online productivity tools space - which so far isn't saying much, given how these Web-based programs are still in their infancy.

From October to December, the number of unique visitors remained mostly flat, somewhere around 425,000 to 445,000 unique vistors who spent between 10-15 minutes at each site. Again, nothing that indicates huge usage. And I suspect that the 10-15 minutes is spent exploring the tools or testing the program to see if it's really compatible with Microsoft's Word or Excel

This alone might not qualify as a huge milestone in the competition between Google and Microsoft. But Google Docs and Spreadsheets are FREE programs - and with Office 2007 just released for around $150 (or perhaps less if you bargain shop it) - free is probably part of its appeal.

The report notes that Google Docs users to date are in a higher-income bracket - an estimated 28 percent of them earning more than $100,000 annually. This means people who can afford to buy Microsoft's Office products and yet they're willing to give Google's free program a shot. So then what happens when cash-strapped college students, schools, and families discover these online programs? I bet there's a team of people over in Redmond who are very much thinking about the future.

By Sam Diaz  |  February 21, 2007; 10:37 AM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Comments

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I tried Google Docs earlier this week, and it is impressive. I almost qualify for that 28% statistic, and I already use OpenOffice instead of MS Office. Since Google docs also uses the ISO standard for documents (.odt) it works well with a ton of other office suite like KOffice, or Zoho. The collaboration tools for Google Docs are very nice.... etc. etc. Point is, I really like it.

Posted by: hendrixski | February 21, 2007 5:06 PM

Google has the right idea; however, they still have long ways to go. They lack many of the advance features like filtering and pivot tables to attract the advance users and is still limited on many of the basic ones. To say that users only use 20% of what MS Office provides is true; however, I only see 5% of the 20% needed is in the application. For example, most sheets only allow about 400 rolls. Unless you are just using the spreadsheet as a reporting mechanism, you will need more rolls because we have lots of data. Secondly, Google allows you to freeze rolls but it's only about 5 rolls; will need a little more than that. What happen to freezing columns? Where's that functionality. Overall, I believe Google is heading down the right path but I do not see much traffic as far as adapting or migrating to it anytime soon. I only see the cutting edge people that would like to try out and see what is it all about and that's about it. I believe if Google puts more resources on the product and fill in the rest of the "20%" that most users need from a spreadsheet.

Posted by: Derik Tran | February 21, 2007 9:11 PM

Google has the right idea; however, they still have long ways to go. They lack many of the advance features like filtering and pivot tables to attract the advance users and is still limited on many of the basic ones. To say that users only use 20% of what MS Office provides is true; however, I only see 5% of the 20% needed is in the application. For example, most sheets only allow about 400 rolls. Unless you are just using the spreadsheet as a reporting mechanism, you will need more rolls because we have lots of data. Secondly, Google allows you to freeze rolls but it's only about 5 rolls; will need a little more than that. What happen to freezing columns? Where's that functionality. Overall, I believe Google is heading down the right path but I do not see much traffic as far as adapting or migrating to it anytime soon. I only see the cutting edge people that would like to try out and see what is it all about and that's about it. I believe if Google puts more resources on the product and fill in the rest of the "20%" that most users need from a spreadsheet.

Posted by: Derik Tran | February 21, 2007 9:12 PM

Why isn't OpenOffice mentioned here?

http://www.openoffice.org/

Posted by: Dropout | February 21, 2007 9:34 PM

Um, MS Office Standard 2007 is retailing for $350 for a full version and $210 for the upgrade (on Newegg, one of the cheaper retailers), not $150 - which of course makes anything free that much more appealing. but if Google doesn't have the full functionality, it won't cut it for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 22, 2007 4:23 PM

Um, MS Office Standard 2007 is retailing for $350 for a full version and $210 for the upgrade (on Newegg, one of the cheaper retailers), not $150 - which of course makes anything free that much more appealing. but if Google doesn't have the full functionality, it won't cut it for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 22, 2007 4:24 PM

This didn't seem to be mentioned, but are the documents created in Google Docs stored somewhere online? I thought I heard something on NPR last night about this. If this is the case, then privacy regulations (such as HIPPA) may prevent companies from using Google Docs. Has anyone heard about this?

Posted by: Elisa | February 23, 2007 1:19 PM

Derik Tran: By "rolls" do you mean "rows"? Otherwise, your [duplicated] post makes exactly zero sense.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | February 25, 2007 4:33 AM

Mike, I believe Derik means "rows" not "rolls" and by reading his full post it is pretty clear that English is not his first language (do to the cadence and some other grammatical and spelling mistakes that a native speaker would be unlikely to make), so cut him some slack.

Posted by: Chris in DC | March 1, 2007 2:19 PM

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