I wonder if everyone is as confused as I am when you read about Microsoft’s plan to update Outlook to allow for better Google Calendar integration? I honestly had to read the headline at least three times to be able to understand it. Oh and I forgot one thing – it’s specifically for Mac’s! Is your mind blown yet? Google + Microsoft + Apple. No wonder there are issues with syncing. So let’s take this from the top. Microsoft has released a version of Outlook which is for Mac’s only. The reason being that they want to be able to test Google Calendar and Contacts integration.
Right now this version is available world wide to Mac users and it’s available without an Office 365 subscription. This preview is only available until June 30, 2017 and the company is looking for testers who do not regularly use Outlook for Mac, but instead rely on the Google apps to end up at the same place. Confusing, huh? Well, maybe not. What Microsoft is doing is two fold – 1) trying to improve their product (good for them), but also 2) trying to integrate an existing product into theirs.
I can kind of see the benefits for using both Outlook and Google Calendar. I honestly like them both. But by allowing a better integration of the two, I think they are opening themselves up to new customers. And perhaps they’re targeting Mac users for a couple of reasons. Of which, I’m merely speculating. It’s possible that the previous version of Outlook had some bugs. And without trying to take sides, it is a Microsoft product after all. So my guess is it was filled with bugs… and even more bugs as they try to apply it to a Mac platform. And also, maybe this will sway some Mac users over to the dark side. Or at least users that haven’t been using Microsoft Office, or Outlook specifically.
So why is this so important to Microsoft? Again, I’m just speculating here as these are my opinions, but my guess is that it wants to compete with Apple in a more meaningful way. I went searching for some data to back up my theory, and in fact, there it is. In a 2014 article from the Wall Street Journal, it’s suggested that Microsoft Office isn’t necessary any more. With Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote, maybe the Office suite is no longer relevant. Now that’s not to say that Microsoft hasn’t made any gains over the years. But it still feels a bit clunky. My work laptop was recently upgraded to Microsoft Office 2016, and while it’s an improvement, it’s still the Microsoft of old.
Maybe it’s my generation, and subsequently my age, but I much prefer the Google suite. I haven’t had the luxury of having a Macbook for a few years now (gasp, I know), so I can’t personally compare it. I am not going to get into the merits of Google versus Microsoft, but I personally think Google wins here. And that’s why Microsoft is trying to integrate the products. If the product is difficult to use, or doesn’t do what it should, people are going to stop using it. It would literally just take one bug or failed integration to get someone to switch to another product. So maybe this is Microsoft’s swan song? Ok, maybe that’s a bit too dramatic, but it’s at least a really good effort on their part.
As I’ve been trying to say in this post, I’m not knocking Microsoft. But I do think their products have their limitations. I am required to use them for work, so I have been able to “master” the tools and figure out work arounds when needed. But that being said, if I had an option, I would likely choose Google. So I think this is a good move on Microsoft’s part, but I think they need to work on other ways to improve their software as well.