Last week, we discussed Google’s spreadsheet and word processor in context of a $300 PC offer from Dell; The PC — monitor included — cost more than the full version of Microsoft Office:
"A few weeks ago, I got a snail mail offer from Dell for a pretty fast
2.4Ghz machine — 17" CRT included — for the "low low price" of $300.
I was about to buy (yet another) machine for the office — when it
dawned on me that Office Professional-Small Business cost $320 — more
than the PC itself. I decided to pass. (I could have gotten Office
Basic — Word, Excel and Outlook — for $70). I suspect this process
occurs lots of times in small businesses in America.
In Google’s short history, they have continuously rolled out more
and more offerings. I suspect that 5 years from now, we will look back
to discover that a full featured Office equivalent has developed.
In the alternative, is there anyway this ends up helping Microsoft? I can’t think of any."
Today’s NYT has a similar column:
"The biggest expense in buying a new computer is not always the computer. After all, you can buy a new Dell desktop, and a good one at that, for $300 and get a monitor in the bargain.
The software to make a PC do anything useful can cost you as much as the computer. To accomplish even the most basic functions on the computer, like writing, you could pay $400 for the standard edition of Microsoft’s Office suite that includes Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, Outlook for e-mail and PowerPoint for boring everyone with slideshow presentations.
You can find software that is cheaper. Yet a stripped-down student and teacher edition of Word still costs $150 and even Microsoft Works 8.0, a really basic version of Word and Excel, is $50.
There is another way to do almost everything these programs can do — some would say you can actually do more — and you can do it free. A number of smart programmers have developed word processing, spreadsheet, calendar and other software that you operate while in a Web browser.
No one is saying they are a direct substitute for Word or Excel, but they do have a distinct advantage. The programs can be used by several people at different computers to collaborate on a document."
Its not quite a "read it here first," but it does have a similar flavor.
I like the Times’ focus — not on the Google vs Microsoft aspect of this,
but rather on the variety of free web based software you can put on a
cheap PC. Its a good set of resources for those looking for a cheap 2nd
or 3rd machine.
UPDATE: June 17, 2006 9:13am
Okay, okay! When 5 emailers tell me Open Office is th way to go within minutes of this posting, I must offer up a link:
Google vs Microsoft: Now We’re Getting Serious
The Big Picture, Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Now, Free Ways to Do Desktop Work on the Web
NYTimes, June 17, 2006