Microsoft is selling Office productivity in the cloud… Are you buying?

Two years ago, when Microsoft launched their beta-preview of Office 2013, Microsoft told us they had developed this wave of Office products “cloud-first.”

This meant that Microsoft first developed Office 365 and then refactored their code as installable software for use on a company’s servers running in their own data centre.

Three years earlier, Office 2010 was said to be developed with a “software-first” approach (developed for use on-premises and then scaled to the cloud).

Today, whether Microsoft develops Office as cloud- or software-first no longer matters, at all. Microsoft has made it clear that the future of Office is in the cloud.

As evidence of this, all of Microsoft’s significant Office innovations of late have been on Office 365. Few of these will likely be ported for on-premises use.

The nature of Office 365 itself has also changed in a subtle but significant way.

Once considered convenient enterprise bundles of SharePoint, Exchange and Lync Online features, Microsoft now markets the Enterprise, Government and Education Office 365 plans (aka E1/3/4, G1/3/4 and A2/3/4) as unique products of their own (which, btw, hardly mention Exchange, SharePoint or Lync in their user interface).

Even Microsoft’s retail packaging and promotions of Office are driving people to use cloud subscriptions and storage.

By Larry Cannell – Analyst, Gartner

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