09.07.09

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The Fall of Microsoft Office and the Rise of FOSS vs SaaS Wars

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Mail, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenOffice at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: As businesses shift away from proprietary software, a foreseen struggle may involve location of the software

THIS NEWS was alluded to very briefly in a lump of Daily Links, but here it is in detail along with some additional context.

There are many reports out there about a survey that indicates small businesses in the UK are ditching Microsoft Office.

Despite the dominance of Microsoft Office, Google Apps may be gaining ground with small businesses in the United Kingdom, according to a new study.

Accredited Supplier, a U.K.-based B2B marketplace, polled 1,400 Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) customers, and found that 13 percent plan to switch from Office to Google Apps within the next 12 months.

Some suggest that it means growth for Fog Computing, notably Google. To give an example:

British small biz falls out of love with Microsoft, heads to the Clouds

[...]

In their poll of 1,400 Microsoft customers, all small businesses in the UK, they found that 13% of them intend to switch to Google Apps within 12 months while 22% are “undecided”. In other words a healthy number are either switching or probably poised to switch. Of the remaining, 36% were Not Switching and 29% were “Not aware” of Google Apps.

Google is indeed the point of focus here now that the team at Google makes a push into the enterprise.

The response to Google seems to involve an unhealthy dose of FUD. The other day we wrote about how the press had taken Gmail downtime (Web-based side only) out of reasonable proportions, especially given the fact that many businesses don’t quite mind and it’s not news because nothing is ever perfect.

Businesses Don’t Expect 100% Availability With Gmail

[...]

There’s been plenty of blogging, twittering, and general hand-wringing about Google’s Gmail outage Tuesday. But rather than extend this into yet another philosophical discussion about the viability of cloud computing, let’s keep this in mind: Businesses who’ve signed on for Gmail don’t expect perfection. In fact, both Google and Microsoft only agree to 99.9% uptime for their online email offerings.

Familiar Microsoft shills like Preston Gralla do their usual routine of spitting at Google given the downtime which affected only Web access (E-mail could still be accessed via other protocols).

With all that talk about Google Apps, it is worth emphasising that one should ideally move to Free software such as KOffice or OpenOffice.org. Fog Computing distances control and can sometimes hold personal data as hostage. The reason Google is defended in this case is that it helps weaken a company which is constantly attacking GNU/Linux and Free software in general.

The Los Angeles Times has this new piece about Microsoft’s continued loss in Fog Computing.

Microsoft’s grip on users is being lost in the cloud

[...]

Microsoft’s goal obviously is to coerce me to upgrade to the new version of Office, which would cost me as much as $400, take up an enormous amount of my hard drive space and undoubtedly consume obscene quantities of my computing power.

[...]

Still, the cloud is opening the playing field for sellers of what’s known as “software as a service” — instead of buying a program and managing it in your home or office, you pay these guys a subscription fee to maintain the program and hold your data on their computers. (What happens to your data if your subscription lapses or the servicer goes out of business is another issue still lost in the, er, clouds.)

Glyn Moody drew attention to this alerting reminder of how Microsoft exploits schools such that they become agents of lock-in.

Microsoft’s Education Labs launched a new project this afternoon and it’s better on trees and the environment. The group just announced a new Math Worksheet Generator where teachers can generate math problems and email them in paperless Word format to their students. In addition to Math Worksheet Generator, the group also announced plans for two additional projects to be released in the Fall.

Moody’s response to it is this:

Hard-pressed teachers will love this – and won’t even notice that they are being turned into a vector for lock-in to Word (not that they aren’t already). I predict we’ll be seeing much more of this content-driven approach, whereby Microsoft makes people offers they can’t refuse…provide they take King Billy’s shilling.

Speaking of education and lock-in, here is something to watch out for:

After seven years in rented buildings in Ghana, Ashesi University broke ground on a new campus that’s largely funded by donations from Microsoft alumni.

Microsoft’s EDGI is sometimes used in Africa for digital colonisation. While the above does not seem to say much about the curriculum, it remains to be seen if the campus becomes a training centre for Microsoft, recruiting people to have the nation dependent on the company, digitally. In developing nations, Microsoft is still experimenting with business models for squeezing the most money out of already-impoverished people. “Pay-as-you-go” thinking is not passé yet.

As per the new agreement, Landsteinar will offer Microsoft SPLA licensing schema on a ‘pay as you go’ software leasing basis, charging only for the number of users per month.

Fog Computing is either based on advertising or “pay-as-you-go” (subscription) for revenue, whereas Free software is mostly customisation- and support-based. That is where customers actually pay for real value.

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

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