Microsoft Fights Google Apps With Free, Web-based Office

Watching Google and Microsoft lately has been like watching a tennis match: Each company seems to be taking turns hitting back at the other with new announcements, new products, and so forth. The latest volley isn’t strictly search-related, but it’s very notable: Microsoft announced “lightweight” versions of its Office products that will be free and web-based — a direct competitor to Google Apps.

The free products will include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, and will be available to anyone with a Microsoft Live account.

Just last week, Google got into the OS business when it announced the Google Chrome OS. Microsoft’s most recent volley before that, of course, was the introduction of Bing, its new search engine. And those are just the recent pieces of this back-and-forth game the two companies are playing.

Google Apps are popular today, no doubt in large part to beating Microsoft to the punch with free, online productivity apps. But Google’s advantage will disappear if the millions of people who use Microsoft Office on their computers begin to use the online versions and are satisfied with the experience.

The web versions of these four Office apps should be available in the first half of 2010. You can bet on Google returning this Microsoft volley before then.

There’s more discussion on Techmeme.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Apps For Your Domain | Google: Business Issues | Microsoft: Business Issues

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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