Why Microsoft

A blog about Microsoft's strategic and technical differentiation.

Google Hits “Like” Button on Office, Again.

Google Hits “Like” Button on Office, Again.

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Last week, I posted on how Google was boldly introducing features (acquired from DocVerse) which might allow users to rely entirely on Office for their productivity needs.  Today Google expanded their crush on Office to include a feature of Outlook by adding the option to turn off threading / conversation view so that messages are sorted by ‘date’.   Something Outlook has done since it ran on DOS?  Maybe they should just hit the 'like' button on our Facebook page?

Petition (for an Asterisk)

For years now, Google has been saying ‘conversation view’ (threaded) was the best way to read email. But apparently users petitioned for this feature so I can only imagine the water cooler chat at the GooglePlex in Mountain View “people and their ‘stupid’ options”.   

Such an approach is not good for gaining lots of users.  This is likely why Gartner’s estimate for Gmail market share is at only 1%.  Maybe someone will now start a petition for 'GoneGoogle' to get an asterisk? 

Mission #1 - Help the User First

At Microsoft, we've researched user behavior for years and realized not all people work the same way.  You have to build software that delights users, helps them be creative, efficient and unique as they are.   Building this kind of software is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart and it takes years of listening and evolving what you deliver. 

The 1% Challenge

Google’s recent attempts to be a software company in the workplace will challenge their culture. Supporting more users means supporting more requirements.  That leads to complexity of features which the company appears to openly dismiss. They almost revel in uniformity and simplicity, almost to a fault.

That’s why I’ve found it so ironic that the more they preach Office has too many features, the busier they get adding the features they just told you weren’t needed.

Supporting 1% of your users has to be as important as the other 99%.   Taking away a feature used by 1% of Office users means impacting nearly 7Million people.  That’s 2.5 x the amount of businesses claimed to have ‘Gone Google’.   

Options are Good

With Outlook 2010/Outlook Web Access we included the ability to have conversation view as one of several options.  In fact, I think we improved how it visually renders the messages compared to stacked index cards like Gmail. That’s advancing something.  

But we didn't abandon all the other views people use.  In fact, we offer 12 different views for your inbox, and people use each and every one of them. In addition to new views like conversation, we added features like Clean Up, Mail Tips, Ignore, Quick Steps all of which allow people to regain control of their inboxes. If you want the best overview of these features, go check out the Outlook PM Team post, "What Up with my Inbox".

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