Friday, June 22, 2012

As Microsoft Wages War on Google

Everyone who knows me, knows that I've been using GMail almost exclusively as my personal email account since I was invited back in 2004.  After a slight learning curve, since I was moving from Yahoo, I have had nothing but good things to say about GMail and the Google Ecosphere.  I now not only use GMail as my primary email provider, Google Docs/Drive, Google Calendar, Google+, and Google Reader have all become a huge part of my online life.  I have been very happy with these products throughout the years.

Google used to be the only "real" online player that did provide multiple services that integrated well together.  However, as the years have passed other online entities have realized that in order to stay useful and relevant in the market they should probably follow with their own offerings.  Obviously, some were better than others but to my mind only one has really stood out as a real competitor to the "Google Siege". Enter Microsoft Live.

Microsoft Live is more a less a collection of Microsoft products and services that collectively compete with Google's products, in my opinion.  The products that fall under the Live umbrella are: Calendar, Contacts, Family Safety, Groups, Hotmail, Office, Photos, Devices and SkyDrive.  I have highlighted the ones that I think game changers, at least to me.  Let me run down the list and reason why I feel this way:

  1. Family Safety - This only works if you are running a Windows OS, using Internet Explorer and also have sepereately log on credentials to your computer for each member of your family.  Essentially it allows you to link local computer accounts to Microsoft Live accounts and then monitor and control what is done through these accounts online.  
  2. Office - Come on, really?  Who doesn't know what Office is?  Basically you now have an online, free version of the full blown applications.  The software works inside your browser to allow you to edit and then same Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents.  Then you can store and sync them using #3.
  3. Devices and SkyDrive - I put these two together simply because they kind of go together and work hand in hand.  Basically for devices, these include desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices that you can "connect" to your live account.  Once you have completed this process, you can actually view all storage on those devices from anywhere you can log into your Live account.  Now you'll never be able to tell your boss you left that report on your desktop computer at home.  SkyDrive is exactly what it sounds like.  SkyDrive is Microsofts answer to syncing folders (up to 25Gb for free) on any number of computers you have connected.  You can also log into your Live account on the web and view all your stored/synced files from anywhere.  
To wrap up, I don't think that I'll be closing my Google account anytime soon.  However, I do believe that Microsoft Live has become almost too large....and too good to simply over look.  I really enjoy the integration that Google has going on in their camp but there are some distinct advantages for the company who wrote the OS most desktop computers are using when it comes to integrating there online services with your desktop/local user experience.

I didn't even go into some privacy issues with the two services but if you are interested in reading more please feel free to click on the link below.  Take care.

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