How Microsoft might counter Google's Quickoffice move

Google may have just bought itself a needed competitive hedge against Office 15 on Windows tablets and possibly iOS and Android devices. But Microsoft has the preload advantage.

Google Docs has made some inroads against Microsoft Office, but not nearly enough.

That's no doubt a big reason for Google's latest acquisition, Quickoffice, announced today. Now the question becomes will the cross-mobile-platform productivity suite Quickoffice give Google a better leg up against Microsoft's Office?

Manipulating a spreadsheet in Quickoffice Pro HD for iPad. Quickoffice

Quickoffice runs on iPhones, iPad, Android, Android tablets and Symbian devices. And Office 15, the coming version of Microsoft's productivity app suite, will run on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone and, perhaps soon the iPad and Android, too. The one-two punch of Office 15 (aka Office 2013, the public beta of which could arrive by mid-June) plus Windows 8 is expected to help Microsoft in the both the x86/x64-based PC and ARM-based tablet markets.

The Office card is likely to be especially key to the coming wave of ARM tablets, as Microsoft officials have said previously that four Office 15 apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) will be "included" with Windows on ARM -- now known as Windows RT -- devices. We still don't know exactly what "included" means. Nor do we know whether these four apps will be full versions, local versions or maybe even remotely hosted versions. (I'm still thinking Microsoft is planning on some kind of OEM-pre-installed Starter-Edition type versions for Windows RT devices.)

On May 31, Morgan Stanley published a research report entitled "Tablet Landscape Evolution: Window(s) of Opportunity." One of the paper's conclusions: Microsoft has "shifted from a challenged to a best-positioned company in the tablet market, as Windows 8 with Office has the potential to drive market growth and share gains." The authors continue: "Our survey suggests 25% of users expect to buy Windows 8 tablet and Office is a key feature, especially for those considering their first tablet purchase."

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft provides its Windows 8 tablets with some breathing room by introducing Office 15 for Windows and Windows RT first, followed by iOS and possibly Android months later. Some inside and outside the company think this would be the smart thing to do. Others think that now that Office, and not Windows, has become the lead cash cow at Microsoft, and that Office shouldn't have its priorities and strategies dictated by Windows any more.

There's one other noteworthy tidbit in the Morgan Stanley paper which is related to Microsoft's and, ultimately, Google's future success with office suites on mobile devices. Morgan Stanley is predicting Microsoft will offer OEMs a bundle of Windows 8 and Office 15 for anywhere between $82 to $114 per copy for them to preload on new PCs.

Microsoft officials, unsurprisingly, won't share their OEM price lists. But that range may not be far off the mark. One of my contacts says that the $50 price range (for an OEM copy) has been thrown around before with Windows 7 Home Premium, "so it stands to reason that Windows 8 is the same." Throw in Office 15 for around $32 to $54 per copy if Morgan Stanley's pricing is right, and you've got yourself a bundle!

Google may take the same approach it has been pursuing with Docs and Apps and simply undercut Microsoft to try to gain more of a foothold in the productivity suite space. But I'm thinking OEM preload power could still give Microsoft an advantage.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline It's war: Google + Quickoffice vs. Microsoft Office everywhere.

 

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