Although some believe Google Apps has just now sounded the battle cry for desktop applications, Microsoft may already have won round one.
Whatever happened to the next wave in enterprise knowledge management, the one that was destined to disrupt old business models and leave behind a new world of collaboration-based tools? It shouldn’t be any surprise that when the tide subsided, Microsoft Office remained standing right where it was.
In the evolution of every class of tool in human history — the washboard, the six-pounder cannon, the oil lamp, the flint knife — there is one common element: It was rendered obsolete by the sudden and welcome appearance of something better, more efficient, more adaptable, more relevant, more practical. Marginal improvements to a tool — anti-lock brakes, Touch-Tone dialing, the “mute” button — typically take longer to phase in. Despite all efforts devoted toward evangelistic offensives, markets have more difficulty embracing something that’s slightly better than something that’s obviously better.
Case in point: Microsoft Word. You may not recall that Word spent the first ten years of its existence languishing behind WordPerfect, whose place in the workforce throughout the 1980s (at least among smaller businesses that had adopted PCs and the first LANs) appeared unshakable. This despite the fact that with Word, you could actually see italic text as italic (albeit with a special switch), and make swift corrections using on-screen menus that guided your keystrokes. Most every businessperson to whom I demonstrated Word versus WordPerfect during the ‘80s declared Word easier to use. READ MORE