Microsoft, of course, has been feeling the pinch, and it released a defensive blog post outlining its position. "Lately, it seems there's a new, free productivity application launching every week," Julia White, the general manager of Microsoft's Office business, wrote last week. "They're flooding the market with point solutions that have rudimentary levels of functionality and a variety of user experiences. With this comes speculation of if these free offerings can replace Office. We know the crowded app market is creating confusion for customers, but the reality is, the best free alternative to Office is Office --Office Web Apps."
Microsoft recently beefed up Office Web apps with its own collaborative features, a swipe at Google Apps, and its robust system of real-time document sharing and collaboration. It's unclear, however, how many users habitually collaborate on a document simultaneously.
Probably the real test for CloudOn, however, will be whether it can solve its nagging bugs and the latency issues that have dogged its mobile releases. Otherwise, Gadekar claims that CloudOn has 5 million users. If desktop users can get a virtual copy of Office--even an older generation--for free via virtualization, it seems fair to say more users will check out the CloudOn alternative.
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