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Quora Answer : Why doesn't anyone compete with Microsoft and create a new, better Microsoft Office Suite?

Jul 20, 2018

Office suites aren't actually that useful.

Once upon a time there were word-processors, spreadsheets, databases, drawing and painting programs etc. Which were useful.

And these were all expensive and useful in offices. Particularly in offices where there were specialist "secretaries" to do typing and basic filing and admin work.

So companies that made several of these business packages, like Lotus and Borland and Microsoft saw value in bundling them all together for a discount.

And small offices of the 80s and 90s found that useful.

But then the internet happened. Widespread computer literacy happened. Everyone had and could use their own laptop. The dedicated "secretary" role evolved or disappeared in many small companies.

Wordprocessing was used to write business letters. And business letters got replaced by email and other messaging apps. In many cases, the rival for Word is not Google Docs, it's Gmail and Whatsapp and Slack.

And, as many companies stopped making fancy reports, and started making fancy web-sites. The rival was equally HTML and CSS and a hundred Javascript frameworks.

Similarly, sometime in the late 90s Microsoft noticed that Excel was being used more as a basic list-making app. than as an actual spreadsheet to do calculations.

They re-oriented it around that. But that means that Excel's rivals are as much Trello or bug-tracking software or todo list software as another spreadsheet.

In doing so, Excel has missed out on a huge area of potential growth : the big data, statistics, machine learning, AI world. Where people will use something like JuPyter and cloud-tools through the browser instead of Excel.

Yes. Today many people do still have Microsoft Office and use two or three of its applications. But it's no longer so obvious that these three or four applications "naturally" go together. Or that this particular bundle is the "comprehensive" suite for all of any individual's needs. Particularly in business.

The "Office Suite" is a "legacy format". For people who don't quite know what they want, but assume that something big and traditional must cover their needs. Even though it doesn't, much.

As that's Office's market. And as that market isn't very adventurous for choosing new pieces of software, it's hard for an insurgent to beat the incumbent.

I would like to see Microsoft (but also Open / Libre office) blow up the whole outdated "Office Suite" format. Away to the dustbin of history with it.

There are lots of questions : why the hell are these three separate programs?

Compare Jupyter ... where you can add chunks of formatted text, cells containing actual executing program. Cells containing generated output including sophisticated graphing and charting.

So, why, in 2018, isn't there just one program which can be used to manage documents, assemble texts, embed numerical tables, quality diagrams and drawings, charts, dynamic calculations (and even more complex programs) and has templates to export this material in printed document, web-page, slide-show or various other formats?

Why isn't that program tightly integrated with the online? So you can publish directly to the cloud? Can work collaboratively, pull data from external sources to feed your calculations?

Today Office is a ludicrous anachronism. No-one in their right mind should try to build a new thing in that format.

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