28 January 2009

Virtualized Microsoft Office for Mac

Microsoft should stop developing Office for Mac and instead ship Office for Windows running on a Virtualized Windows environment on OSX.

Microsoft Office for mac is a paradox for Microsoft:

  • Microsoft can't risk losing the income from Office for Mac - It's 10% of Office sales.
  • Office for mac makes it easier for PC owners to switch to Mac.
  • Microsoft makes money from office, regardless of whether the person is using OSX or Windows.
  • Its cross platform support means 2X the cost of development
  • Making sure it works consistently between OSX and Windows increases the cost substantially
  • Features in Office Mac lag that of Office Windows.
  • Feature adoption slows because of the lack of cross platform support - especially in enterprises.

So what should Microsoft do? Microsoft needs to get back into Virtualization.

At the same time that the Mac has risen in popularity, so has Virtualization technology. Virtualization allows you to run a different Operating System inside your primary Operating System. This way you can run Windows in OSX with very little performance loss. VMWare and Parallels are just two of many companies competing in this space. Unfortunately, Microsoft pulled its Virtual PC product for Mac several years ago.

Instead of developing a separate product called Office: Mac, Microsoft should develop one version of Office. The Mac version would simply be Office for Windows running in a virtualized environment of windows.

The benefits?

  • single development cycle
  • consistent user experience
  • additional revenue - from selling the virtualization environment as a standalone product
  • Office for Mac would mysteriously runs a little slower than the Windows counterpart
  • The best side-effect? How do you speed up Office for mac - Use Windows.