As Gabe and I have been writing our DaaS book, we've been talking quite a bit about the Windows desktop applications that companies need. Microsoft Office is usually on the top of that list—especially when it comes to enterprises. The reason enterprises need "real" Microsoft Office is because they typically have add-ins and VBAs and workflows built around the Windows versions of the Office suite. So even if alternate office suites like Google docs offer the all the "Office-like" functionality that the majority of users need, enterprises can't switch over since they still need real Office for so much stuff.
But I've been wondering: Is it time to mentally divide our understanding of Microsoft Office into the "platform" (that's used for our VBAs and add-ins and workflows) and the "office document editor" we use to edit documents and spreadsheets?
Dividing these roles would allow us to deploy more modern office suites like Google Docs for the majority of document creation and editing while still using real Microsoft Office as the platform for the enterprise apps when needed.
I'm sort of thinking out loud here and wondering whether this would work? It seems simple on one hand, but on the other it might be confusing because then some users would have two "Word-like," environments—Microsoft Word for some situations and Google Docs for the other. I would imagine that would be confusing for users? Then again, there are still tons of scenarios where enterprises deploy one browser for access to certain enterprise apps and another browser for general web surfing, and a "split" office suite doesn't seem like it's too different?
Of course if you go to all the trouble to deploy real Microsoft Office, then why not just use that for everything? Though again, Google Docs is better on iPads and phones than real Office deployed via remote Windows, so I don't know...
And what about Office 365 and Office Web Apps? It seems that maybe those are the best of both worlds? You can get basic functionality for the Office suite from a browser and then get full VBA support if your'e running the full version of Office on Windows? (Then again, the web version of those apps only let you view Office documents in a read only way, so I don't know if that's actually useful or not?)
Really I guess I'm posing this question to you: From an enterprise standpoint, how important is Office "the platform?" I assume you can't just switch willy-nilly to Google Docs for everything, but could you switch for the majority of document work and then use real Office as a platform (ROaaP?) for the specific stuff that needs it? Or is that just adding complexity that doesn't really solve anything?