Microsoft's Office 365 software hits the cloud
"The biggest name in Office software is very strongly going to the cloud," says Matt Cain, an analyst at technology research firm Gartner. "It presupposes a much larger move to the cloud, assuming things go well."
The worldwide market for cloud computing will grow from $68.3 billion in 2010 to $148.8 billion in 2014, Gartner forecasts.
Microsoft's move takes aim at Google Apps, Directions on Microsoft analyst Wes Miller says. Google's free online service includes Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Talk. Google also offers subscription-based corporate versions of its e-mail and applications. Google Apps popularized the online office.
What's significant about Microsoft's Office 365 is that it will allow people to work both online and offline with Office. That's a key differentiator for consumers and businesses concerned about online-only software, such as Google Apps.
Google last month upped the ante for the online office by unleashing its Chromebooks laptops, which are designed to use Google Apps software online and store information to the cloud. "Microsoft needs to work at keeping Google at bay," Cain says.read more.