Hybrid Models and Being All Things to All People

Microsoft is out with Office365 and, well, it’s typical Microsoft.

Why can’t I simply point to a URL and get going in the same way I can with Google? Regardless of what you or I might think about Google’s attitude towards our privacy, you have to give them credit for keeping things simple while Microsoft seems determined to complicate matters.

Office365 may have a pretty good feature set but the high degree of complexity required just to get to the point that you are using the app is a major turnoff.

Hybrid models are like this, they try to leverage the on premise assets that established companies bring to the table but in the process they fail to live up to the reason why people prefer cloud based services… simplicity. In typical Microsoft fashion they appear to have started out with a very complex collection of overlapping requirements and at every turn decided to add something new in when perhaps what they should have done is a process of reduction.

Start with complex and relentlessly strip away what is not necessary to compete with Google, which is who they are clearly targeting with this release. Strip it all down to the essentials and be unwavering in the pursuit of an amazing customer experience in the first 10 minutes. That is how winning products are built today.

I am not a huge fan of Google Apps but they certainly make the process of getting started with Google Apps straightforward. As you use it you discover that it is a pretty competent collection of applications for most day to day tasks and the collaboration capabilities hit a high note.

Even though I am a Mac user I still reliably work in Office on a daily basis and, despite having tried alternatives, I consider Office to be the best and most complete office productivity suite ever conceived. It really delivers, almost ever app is class leading (don’t use Entourage or the replacement to Entourage) therefore I am precisely the kind of user predisposed to Office365 but I can’t pull the trigger…. but like Dennis I find myself wondering how Microsoft could have missed by such a wide margin.

Dennis provided an update to his earlier post but the summary still stands:

1) The site is one big hot mess… trying to deliver to customer groups as diverse as individuals to large enterprise IT pros.

2) Can’t I just go to a URL and start using the product?

3) Hybrid models suck… the point is to not cannibalize the on premise business by relying on it as a key value driver, but what this fails to recognize is that I don’t need on premise and in the cloud to work together, I just need each to work individually.

4) Terrible terrible consumer branding, please try next time to deliver something that doesn’t look like it came from Microsoft.

5) Too many product dependencies with other Microsoft technologies that should be playing a supporting background role rather than being thrust in front of the user as a requirement to just get started.