The Information is reporting that Facebook is considering moving from Office 365 to Google Apps for their 27,000 employees.
The report from two sources would mean a “180” by Facebook which moved away from Google to Microsoft Office 365 only two years ago.
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At the time, Facebook was full of praise for Office 365 including a guest post on the Office blog. In the current context it’s interesting to recall this sentence:
“Office 365 also brings capabilities beyond Word, Excel and PowerPoint that are hard to replicate.”
Among the lavish praise was this description of Office 365:
“… a mature and comprehensive platform, it meets our stringent security standards, it complements how we work with intelligence, flexibility, and it is continually evolving. It is globally deployed, accessible on every mobile platform we support, and it is secure.”
This rumor could just be a negotiating tactic by Facebook to get a better price from Microsoft for an extended Office 365 contract.
For Microsoft, the loss of such a large customer goes beyond the lost revenue. It would be a high profile defection that might make other large customer rethink their choices.
Hard to move
A factor for Facebook to consider is the cost and difficulty of moving from Office 365 to another service.
Just one reason why Microsoft, Google and others push cloud services is the difficulty and cost of moving to another service. Microsoft has deliberately made some features of Word, Excel and PowerPoint only available with a link to their cloud services (Dictate, Excel Maps, PowerPoint Designer to name just three). All the Office software has direct and subtle reliance on Microsoft cloud services. It’s not a simple matter of uninstalling Office and installing replacement software.
Why we’d like Facebook to switch to Google
A large scale and prominent move by Facebook back to Google Apps would be a good thing for Microsoft Office users.
It would force Microsoft to lift their game. Nothing motivates Redmond more than rivals getting the upper hand.
Many, many times Microsoft Office has been improved because of rival innovations. Microsoft Teams is just the latest of a long like of things we get from Microsoft because another company (Slack) forced their hand).