Why the Microsoft-Google cloud sniping won't stop soon

Microsoft has the entrenched advantage in this fight -- but it also has much more to lose

The interminable sniping between Microsoft and Google over their respective cloud-based office productivity services may never end. The latest Microsoft shot at Google came around the final release of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office last week.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office adds cloud and collaboration to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 on Windows PCs, using Microsoft's Office APIs (available for Windows only -- thus, the lack of Mac support in Cloud Connect). The value is that multiple people may collaborate on the same file at the same time.

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Of course, one good shot across the Microsoft bow will get a quick and snarky response: "Although it's flattering that Google is acknowledging customer demand for Office, we're not sure Google's heart is in the productivity business," Microsoft said in its statement.

This kind of silly back and forth will continue throughout 2011 and 2012 as the lines are drawn in the sand around the multi-billion-dollar office productivity market that Microsoft currently dominates and Google is desperate to penetrate. However, Microsoft has a vulnerability.

The issue is that most of us use Office and have a love-hate relationship with it. I suspect that we would have a love-hate relationship with any productivity application, even if we moved to Google Docs. But the idea that most people will move to Google and leave Office behind is a bit of a reach at this point.

The reason is simple: We know Office, it's relatively inexpensive, it has a migration path to the cloud (Office 365), and we don't want to learn new stuff. I suspect I'll continue to be an Office user no matter what Google does; it's not worth the hassle to learn a new product. Although I use Google Docs for sharing a collaborative project, most of my writing (including this blog) occurs in Office on my laptop. I think I'm in the majority.

However, Google could drive directly into the productivity market if Microsoft stumbles with Office 365 (the beta shows some real issues in its execution) or if Google can create a compelling set of features in Google Docs that are just too good to pass up. Thus far, though, that hasn't happened.

This article, "Why the Microsoft-Google cloud sniping won't stop soon," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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