A couple of weeks back I was at the Citrix Synergy conference in San Francisco and as always did a spot of user observing at the event. What I usually like to do is to walk around the common areas looking at the type of devices people use and if possible the software they use on them. Obviously the latter is difficult without abusing people’s privacy however its usually very easy to spot if someone is using a well known application or website.
The first thing that stood out was the massive abundance of Macs at the event – they were literally everywhere and this was not a unique instance. 7 years ago when I moved to the US and began travelling the American skies, most people who popped out their laptops on an airplane made use of IBMs, HPs or smaller brands with Macs being few and far between; today however you can almost play a game of spot the non-greyish computer.
Irrespective of the device choice the one thing that does strike me is the use of Microsoft Office on the Macs, specifically Outlook and Word. As I walked around the conference, observing people’s usage habits, almost all of the Mac users were engrossed in Outlook or had the Microsoft Office icons on their dock. This was interesting insight as from a personal perspective, the availability of Microsoft Office on the Mac makes the device much more usable from a business perspective.
While the observations were interesting they did lead me to ponder a question of whether Microsoft’s release of Office for the Mac aided Apple’s crusade and actually made adoption of the platform by previous Windows users easier. Recalling conversations years ago with enterprise-type people, the constant argument against Macs in the office was that there was no productivity suite available that was as good as Microsoft Office – a statement I still believe to be true.
So my question is that if Microsoft Office is the primary tool on an enterprise computer and 95% of its functionality is now available on a Mac, what stops an enterprise user from making the “cool” device choice? Unfortunately for Microsoft, their operating system can be the best in the world (which again, I think it is) however the Mac is simply a much cooler device than any other in the eyes of users and I can’t help but feel that Microsoft have made it easier to use them.
The concern also extends to the Office for iPad rumors too whereby if Microsoft make their suite available on the “cool” slate of today, will that harm them in the long run given users will have everything they need from a business perspective?
Interested to know peoples thoughts on this…