Microsoft is bipedal; its legs are Windows and Office. I’ve always thought that Office was the more important, and less open to attack. But there insurgents lurking out there in deep space; their attacks are just pinpricks. So far.
Windows, at the end of the day, is not a very good operating system. Some of the pieces of Office, though, are superb, and would probably have been very successful over the years even without the file-format lock-in and abusive competitive practices. In particular, I’d put Excel on my personal list of the five best pieces of software ever. I want to bust the file-format logjam not because I think it’ll sweep Office away, but competition will make Office cheaper and all the competitors better.
I hadn’t really paid much attention to the Google Docs thing; but then, a couple of times in recent weeks, I was in gmail and there was a message with a .doc attached. Normally I’d save it and open it with MacOffice; I have an elderly but still satisfactory version, but that’s all screwed up because my new Mac came with a trial version of the latest release, which I accidentally opened once and it’s bollixed up my fonts somehow.
Now I see that Apple is taking a run at the fortress with Numbers. Dunno yet whether it’s going to be a triumph like Keynote or a stinking piece of crap like iCal, but the fact that they’re trying is significant.
I’ll be honest, I’d thought that MS-Office on the desktop was going to be a central feature of the ecosystem for as far forward as I could see. But maybe not.