Sunday, January 7, 2018

Thought experiment - how would we think about alternatives to Microsoft Office if we were told and assured that compatibility of file formats will be pristine and perfect for all suites


Just like compatibility of JPEG or .txt or HTML is largely similar and perfect irrespective of application used. If 100% file-format compatibility was assured, I'm sure that the landscape of productivity suites would be much more fragmented in terms of market share. There wouldn't be just Microsoft Office dominating. Corel WordPerfect Office, SoftMaker Office, LibreOffice, Apple iWork, Google Docs, IBM Lotus SmartSuite, AppleWorks, and others would also have had meaningful market shares, depending upon which customer segment they targeted/target. Different office suites from different vendors are priced differently, have innovations of their own, and are targeted at different types of customers, but the only thing that stops people from happily accepting these is compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats. Remove this barrier and all of a sudden people will start choosing that particular suite which best matches their requirements for features, contained applications, price and other factors. Currently people are forced to ignore these other requirements because of file-format issue.

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