Microsoft Avoids Software as a Service — Smart or Dumb?

Inc Technology -- read about Microsoft's Online Strategy and small businessesI was on vacation and almost forgot to mention my latest article at Inc Technology. It’s about Microsoft.

Microsoft has been getting flack recently because it has not embraced the “software as a service” trend for its desktop applications. Tech commentators point to applications like Google Docs and Spreadsheets. They say “why hasn’t Microsoft offered an online version of its Office Suite?”

However, until we have ubiquitous Internet connectivity, it’s just not practical to have to go online to compose a document or work on a spreadsheet. I often spend hours composing documents, PowerPoint presentations and complex spreadsheets. Sometimes I do this sitting in airports, in hotel rooms, in my car between appointments, out on my deck — wherever. Who wants to mess with an Internet connection just to work on a document, or worse, have to pay $15 or $20 for one day’s Internet access on the road? Or have your work slowed down because of a slow or choppy Internet connection?

Instead, Microsoft has embraced something it calls “software and services”: you use the software on your own computer and connect to the Internet only when you need to augment it with a service. For instance, when you need advanced Help, you could go online to access a knowledge base. Or you can go online for an extensive clip art file when you need clip art.

This approach makes sense for basic desktop tasks like composing documents. For now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the convenience of online software applications and use quite a few of them — just not for every task. I use them when I can see a specific benefit to them being online.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is leveraging the Internet in a lot of other ways to help us run our businesses.

Read the article: Microsoft’s Online Services – What’s In It for You?

Then tell us what you think. Is Microsoft missing the boat by not migrating toward online versions of its Office suite?


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

4 Reactions
  1. HI Anita,

    for sure, I think Microsoft has a vested interest to continue to propelry leverage what they have accomplished which is to have a rich desktop client.

    However, there should also be a tendency to look at the issues properly. The web is good for a lot of things, but you are right – not for editing documents or running spreadsheets.

    We resist always to be the hammer that looks at everything as a nail, especially on web tech.

  2. Anita Campbell

    Thanks for your comments, Wilson. It will be interesting to look back in 5 years. I expect a lot will have changed by then. We’ll have online connections all of the time (I hope). Perhaps by then the distinction between an online service and piece of software that resides on our computers, will not much matter.


  3. topbusinessopportunities

    not dumb, but they can’t win the battle against Google, so what the point?