British small biz falls out of love with Microsoft, heads to the Clouds

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Remember all that Web 2.0 hype back in the day? Remember how some predicted an end to the monopoly of Microsoft in those basic applications like Word, Excel and others as these functions moved to the Cloud? Well it looks like that trend is well on its way now and especially in the UK.

According to a survey by Accredited Supplier, a B2B services marketplace, Microsoft is losing their grip on the UK small business market under increasing pressure from cloud computing and open source software.

In their poll of 1,400 Microsoft customers, all small businesses in the UK, they found that 13% of them intend to switch to Google Apps within 12 months while 22% are “undecided”. In other words a healthy number are either switching or probably poised to switch. Of the remaining, 36% were Not Switching and 29% were “Not aware” of Google Apps.

However, despite many remaining undecided about switching to Google Apps specifically, 62% would “prefer” or “strongly prefer” to have their business applications work through a browser, while the rest have no preference or plan to stick to desktop apps.

Of course, you could also surmise that businesses plan to switch to Microsoft-based cloud apps – but that seems unlikely since Microsoft still favours its desktop strategy.

In addition, an impressive 32% use Firefox as their default browser within their business. The remaining are: 58% Internet Explorer, 3% Safari, 2% Chrome, 2% Opera and 3% Other.

The launch of Windows 7 is also not looking like it will fair well in this market. Only 8% of small businesses plan to upgrade to Windows 7 within 12 months of release, while a whopping 62% said No Way Jose, and 30% were Unsure.

The poll makes for worrying reading for Microsoft, with only 8% of small businesses intent on upgrading their operating system with the release of Windows 7.

So the broad implications are that Microsoft is not fairing well in the march towards cloud computing, Internet Explorer is on the decline and Firefox on the rise. And 10% of Microsoft’s UK small business customers are actively considering making the switch to Google Apps.

It looks like Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than just buy Yahoo! to get back in the game.

  • Will - Arena Flowers

    We recently pushed a lot of our functionanility into the cloud via dropbox and google apps. Some way to go before we abandon Word and Excel as applications though (although not everyone in our business needs them).

  • Andrew Chalkley

    Google Apps all the way!

    • frank

      …and, that’s how google becomes microsoft.

  • Steve Reeves


    thanks for posting this – you’ve made my day.


  • TCCritic

    What a bizarre post.

    “but that seems unlikely since Microsoft still favours its desktop strategy”? According to what detailed analysis? Have you heard about Office Live/Hosted Office?

    “It looks like Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than just buy Yahoo! to get back in the game.” What does the Yahoo Search business have anything to do with the SME (Small Businesses & Enterprises) game?

    Very bizarre post.

    • Pete Austin

      Very bizarre comment. Do you mean this thing that lets you “View Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint files from your Web browser.” Note it only says VIEW.

      Also when you select UK the page still says “United States”, so it doesn’t look finished.

  • John L. Evans

    In December 2004 I started a business called LogCo with a vision for a portable and desktop appliance – ‘LogTab’ and ‘LogTerm’ – and thin-client / ASP computing (now known as ‘Cloud’).

    We approached MS about simplifying the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) and working with us to deliver the vision. We also as Google for their help and they said their was no market.

    Not many weeks later MS announced the vapour network service ‘Office Live’ and Google announced Google Apps. The effect was to stall the market for over 2 years and my little vision died for lack of finance – their’s a word for people like that.

    Learn more? Contact me – +44(0)7957 190186

    Cheers John L. Evans

    • Pete Austin

      John: a word to the wise. If you want to launch Web-based businesses, using an AOL email address doesn’t help.

      • cynicalsnalyst

        choking on coffee

    • Misery

      In other words “wah wah wah, they were already working on something and didn’t give me competitive information on their plans.”

    • a85

      Your grammar probably scared them off.

      • John L. Evans

        The changes to my message (grammar) are interesting! My command of the English language, although not necessarily the keyboard, is legendary!

        As for the perception of your colleague…. Hmmm…?

        Regarding my AOL address – it is very, very old and part of my brand – anyone who truly knows me – and I’ve been around here for way over 10 years – knows my email address. Pop it into Google – you’ll get over 1,000 hits.

        AS for the rest of the naivety here; I’m ignoring you – although I doubt you’re worth it….

        Cheers John

  • Reality check: Microsoft losing its grip in the UK? | AccMan

    […] dives in with the provocatively titled: British small biz falls out of love with Microsoft, heads to the Clouds So the broad implications are that Microsoft is not fairing well in the march towards cloud […]

  • Xiao

    Just wondering what is the characteristic of this “13%” of small business who want to switch to Google apps. Maybe they don’t need very complicated software at all?

    BTW: as the major revenue generator of Microsoft, I guess, is the large corporations, a survey on their willingness to switch to Google Apps or cloud computing platform will be much more interesting.

  • David Robins

    The leap to cloud by small business owners, needs both improved speed and security. Can a business owner trust his / her most important docs to Google docs? Without file encryption and better security the march to the cloud will be slow (at least in USA). At we plan to offer the most secure environment for data in the cloud soon.

  • dave martinez

    Goy fed up of outlook and ms office long ago, had a brief afair with gmail, google docs etc before finally convincing my colleagues to switch to google apps.

    Loving the portability, working from the browser (firefox or chrome) and no more system crashes!

    Take that Bill! ;)

  • Ben Rometsch

    Moved from Exchange to Google Apps 6 months ago after struggling to get the latest version of Exchange setup.

    Haven’t looked back. Google is a far better solution for small businesses.

    • Martin

      Gee that’s funny, this article is largely about ‘cloud services’ and you talked about setting up Exchange!?

      It took me all of about 1 hour to setup Microsoft Online Services for my existing domain and then less than 24 hours for my domain hoster to make the name record changes for our email.

      I now have hosted Exchange with Outlook Web Access, hosted Live Meeting, Office Communicator and hosted SharePoint for my small business and I pay a set and known amount each month per user. I have full control over administration of all of this from a browser and I get enterprise scale infrastructure and security.

      I also choose to use Office 2010 across our company as we were accepted into the technical preview company and it took all of 10 seconds to setup Outlook 2010 for everyone. We have been using Office 2007 for the past 2 years.

      The great thing is that Microsoft gets business and understands security, scalability and performance and now for the sum total of $55 per month per 5 users I get the same infrastructure and performance as a huge enterprise like Coca Cola and others with none of the hassle of setting up servers and other hardware.

      The last NPD survey in Nth America said that less than .5% of people are using productivity apps in the clouds and 78% of people aren’t even aware of them.

      • ArrogantGoogler

        I think you should change your name to “Microsoft Astroturfer”. Come on, just admit you work there. Any real users of MS online services have nothing but complaints about it.

        Microsoft “understands security”? Hah!

      • UncleMatt

        Thank you for pointing that out. You can always tell the astroturfers, as their posts always start off…

        “I recently installed MS blah… and it’s been great. Really… I promise… no problems at all.”

        Then followed by some random statistic.

        Come on turfers… get a new script!

  • Tech Toby

    Maybe its about time that we saw the demise of the microsoft monopoly. The computing pioneers will never be clompletly eradicated from the market, but some healthy competition could have positive implications for the consumer!

  • Joe

    Google apps is a joke, I think the big business these days is in survey taking,

    Lets see, I’ll poll the mom and pop Tattoo shop in the UK and ask them if they’d like to move over from something they pay for to something that’s albeit crappy.. but free… oh we’ll take free.

    Sorry Google’s good at search and that’s it, when is everybody going to face up to it.

    • Alex

      I take it you’re in the ‘29% of people unaware of Google Apps’ with a stupid comment like that. /facepalm

    • yosh

      So according to you, all the other google products like maps and gmail are not good choices, because obviously there are way better, and more innovative products out there. Saying that google is only good at search is just plain nonsense. Why do you think MC is planning to go cloud? Because google already did it, and if they don’t follow their example Office will be dead soon. I don’t call that being good at just 1 thing.

  • Jonathan

    The company that I work for is probably switching to Google Apps soon. We provide access to the internet, console gaming, sports, and other leisure activities for young people. Cloud security is a minor issue for us. We don’t need complicated software or hardware. Currently every time we turn on a PC we’re wasting resources.

    We used to work with a Win Server but that’s gone now. We already dropped most of MS’s standard desktop offerings, Office, IE, WMP, etc. XP is next to be replaced and moving to Win7 is out of the question.

    We take pride in being up to date, and our users personal choices and opinions are affected by what we do as a company. A simple example – lots of our users now have FireFox on their own computers, after being turned on to it by us. The MS brand is being pushed out of our users lives, lots of them think of MS as a game company because X360 is the only place they see the name. It’s quite a small sample group but my observations tell me that MS is becoming irrelevant to them. Google’s logo could not be more familiar, dozens of times a day these kids see Google, Youtube, Facebook…Microsoft? If they don’t play Xbox then they probably don’t notice MS once in a week.

    • Joe

      I work for a technology consulting firm, we’ve deal mainly with small to mid sized businesses.

      We generally recommend Microsoft though we are open to other alternatives when they seem appropriate depending on the size of the organization we’re working with.

      While there are alternatives, Google is not one of them.

      • Jonathan

        We deal? We’ve dealt?

        Ha, anyway…

        So you’re saying you advise companies that are different to ours. Wow! That’s incredible! In other news, my tuna pasta tastes like tuna, and pasta…

        There are alternatives, Google IS one of them (just stating a fact), whether or not Google’s solution is appropriate depends on the situation. The success of my company tells me that I don’t need a consultant (lol at the idea) to tell me what will or won’t work.

      • ArrogantGoogler

        Hey Joe, what technology consulting firm? Microsoft services?

        The Microsoft astroturfing is in full force today.

      • UncleMatt

        Turfers scan for these types of posts. It’s their job. They’re ruining the web, it’s worse than spam now.

        It’s what made Digg a wasteland. Now they’re spreading out.

  • subinZ

    where is Zoho
    gogle docs is nothing infront of it

  • Zack

    You didn’t even considered open office which shows how lazy you are in researching the facts for the stories. Just keep bashing MSFT

    • Niurn

      Very good remark.
      The open software movement is very strong, at least from what i see here in continental europe, and is the first option who comes up after MSFT, not google app.

  • Mark

    Three birds sit on a tree. Two say they will fly away. How many birds are left?
    correct: three. saying and doing are different things.

    That said, the upgrade issue is a real problem for Microsoft, since XP and Office 2007 can work perfectly well for years to come. Ironically, the matured and stable products will harm Microsoft compared to their bugged and half baked software.
    They will have to innovate. Google apps, currently, are no match. maybe for geek companies, but not conservative business.

  • Trader Bots

    We just started using Google Apps for our email. What a useful needed service. Might be the gateway drug for us to start moving everything to Google.

    Maybe . . . .


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  • johnbondjovi

    I switched to Google Apps about 1 year ago. I had to drag some people along kicking and screaming and I will admit not all the Apps they offer are ready for prime time but for any System Admin, the IMAP functionality and the Postini(spam filtering, virus scanning, 90 archiving) services alone will save you more time and grey hair than you can ever imagine.

    They day you have finished your migration you can simply forget about your email. No spam filter updates, no virus problems, no DoS attacks on your SDSL lines, no crappy behaviour, no attachments too large to send or receive….

    I won’t vouch for anything else that they offer and I have had problems with them but Google Apps email has spared my sanity.

  • Danny

    So odd that these guys are somehow a trusted source when you’ve never written a word about them before. Had you even heard of them before they came up with this link bait? Such a joke.

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  • Matthew Shore

    I’m not surprised at this. If your company has maybe a maximum of five IT staff, a server in a cupboard, and a small budget, it makes much more sense to outsource apps and data storage, giving start-ups and SMB much more flexibility and cost effective performance. And then there is the issue of data security. You need to trust your IT staff, and that they really know what they are talking about and have the competence to run your firewall and backup systems properly and ensure proper procedures are in place.

    I would be interested how many small to medium sized businesses actually have effective IT security in place. Many may think they do, but I suspect that when it comes down to it they don’t, and it unfortunately takes a disaster to find this out. Small and medium businesses are crying out for a reliable way of taking this responsibility off their hands. Cloud computing adds the benefits of flexibility, both in terms of access and resource scaling.

    Our company has used cloud computing for a number of years [in our case as a relocations service provider and a supply chain management company, Move One.,, and after the feedback we got from other companies about the effectiveness of our system verses the ineffectiveness of their own in house systems, we now package our system and sell it as a service to other relocation providers and HR managers.

    I think that there will be huge growth in these specialised saas applications as well as general ‘office’ software, as this is where companies might have difficulty finding an ‘off the shelf’ system for a reasonable price.

    • Rurik

      Seems rather bogus and stretched.

      FYI Microsoft *has* been offering various cloud services for many years. My last company, Intermedia, launched ‘MS Exchange in the cloud’ in 2000 and now has 200,000 customers.

      Hosted Exchange is far superior to Google Apps — more reliable, feature-rich. It is more expensive (around $120 per year instead of $50) but it is a serious product with a roadmap, unlike Google’s fun experiment.

      • Matthew Shore

        It’s not bogus! I put the links in because there are more posts on Cloud computing on our company blogs. We believe that the technology is, for small and medium businesses at least, a very viable option, especially when you consider other factors like data security on top of the headline features like cost effectiveness and flexibility.

        Microsoft are of course players in the market alongside google and a host of other ‘big hitters’ (although they seem to have thrown their hat in the ring rather late), but other smaller providers are carving out niches of their own using the same technology, and i can see this growing in the future.

  • alan p

    Interesting – we did a piece of research on this about this time last year, what was turning up was much more use of Open Source software, but still quite dubious about putting stuff in the Cloud.

    As I have had 2 conversations in as many days with people pulling about data out the cloud and onto own servers after experiencing issues, I think the Cloud stuff is still up in the…air?

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