Microsoft will be offering its online office suite to all users of one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, Facebook.
The battle for the Office software market started in 2006 when the search giant launched the first elements of its Google Docs.
“Until Google emerged with a credible suite of networked applications, Microsoft was not compelled to do anything.” but now Google Docs offers word-processing, spreadsheet software and a presentation tool, amongst others with businesses able to pay for premium versions.
It currently has a small (4%) but growing share of the market.
By contrast, Microsoft dominates the Office software space, with a market share of more than 94% with the vast majority of sales are to businesses.
Business is still overwhelmingly a Microsoft world and it retains its dominant position despite the free offerings from Google and other alternatives such as Zoho or the free office suite OpenOffice.org.
Office Web Apps offers a free version of programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint with the service allowing people to access and edit documents from within a web browser, as well as share and collaborate on files. It lacks the entire gamut of features found in the desktop versions but it is a highly credible option and Microsoft has said that the suite will be offered free to its 400 million Windows Live users.
The firm has also integrated the social web into its software in a bid to attract new customers and keep the desktop software relevant in an increasingly interactive and social world.
Its Social Connector service allows people to suck in information from social networks such as LinkedIn and MySpace into the Office Outlook e-mail program.
The firm has also released a trial version of its online apps that integrates with Facebook.
The changes that have happening with social networking and web applications over the past two years has meant that Office 2008 has become out-of-date, but this new version brings Office up to the present day.
The software for PCs and phones will be launched at an event in New York on 12 May. Business customers will be able to use it straight away, whilst home users will have to wait until June to buy the full version.