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Amazon may be attempting to dethrone Microsoft 365

Office desktop
Office desktop (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft dominates cloud productivity apps via Office.
  • Amazon may be attempting to compete with Microsoft on that front.
  • Experts are divided on whether Amazon even has a shot at making a dent.

It's no secret that Amazon and Microsoft butt heads in the cloud space, as well as many other sectors. It's also no secret that Microsoft has gargantuan leads in some of these battlegrounds and that Amazon is tirelessly cooking up ways to stay competitive. That's why it's interesting to read about experts' takes on whether Amazon's rumored efforts to subvert its opposition's Microsoft 365 consumer stranglehold stand a chance.

Business Insider reached out to experts regarding the idea of Amazon's potentially gestating rebel alliance of Microsoft rivals, wherein it would unite Dropbox, Salesforce, and Slack to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft's software bundle. But between Office, Teams, and everything else Microsoft offers and subsequently dominates the market with, industry analysts weren't universally sold on the idea that Amazon stands a chance in direct competition.

Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, described Microsoft's cloud-based software business as "really hard to wrestle away," while Gartner vice president Lydia Leong argued that Microsoft is too entrenched in its customers' lives for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to win those people over.

Furthermore, analysts said that whether Amazon phones a friend like Salesforce or goes it alone by attempting to develop its own productivity tools, it'd still be fighting a difficult battle. Even Google hasn't been able to dethrone Microsoft in the space, and it's been trying in a dedicated capacity for a long time. With that said, Amazon is tenacious, and counting it out prematurely wouldn't be wise.

Experts pointed to how Microsoft uses its 365 dominance to easily plug and bundle Azure services. This is one more point against AWS that will force it to fight that much harder to make a dent in its rival's market share. Though it's not impossible for Amazon to surprise everyone, it's also not hard to imagine Microsoft remaining king of the hill for the indefinite future — especially when the latter is about to bring Windows 11 to the cloud, adding a whole new dimension to the high-tech conflict.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

22 Comments
  • Good luck with that! User of gamestack leads to Azure
    User of hololens leads to Azure
    User of teams leads to Azure
    User of office 365 leads to Azure
    User of windows 365 leads to Azure All roads from Microsoft are directed towards Azure. If you're a Gov/enterprise and you're already using some mix of windows + teams + office 365 and all things being equal between AWS & Azure, who is likely to the cloud contract... the same vendor you're already paying or a new one you have no other business with?
  • Also, it is way easier to migrate to the cloud rather than switch vendor, thanks to the cohesive path to migrate, even existing system is running on-prem.
  • Perhaps Microsoft should compete in the online marketplace by creating a storefront that isn't dominated by counterfeit products, fake reviews, employee exploitation and seller manipulation.
  • Given their inability to establish a digital marketplace that's meaningfully competitive, on top of how badly their retail stores bombed, I suspect Microsoft would have a terrible time trying to establish a national, let alone international, retail chain and digital storefront for said products. Throw in their uneven support of said international markets and that seems impossible.
  • That would be an even far bigger hill to climb than Amazon trying to compete with Microsoft 365.
  • One of the chief causes for dominant companies to falter is using their dominance to set high prices, which in turn creates significant opportunities for competitors to come in at a much lower price, and by the time the big guy realizes, the momentum has shifted and it's often too late. Microsoft hasn't made that mistake. Their pricing on software and services is quite good. That doesn't really create the kind of opportunity for Amazon to get in there. There is certainly an anti-MS crowd, but they're already using Google's services. Amazon AWS is a great cloud offering. We use both AWS and Azure for very different things: Amazon's AWS is perfect for hosting Linux-based web server systems and all the associated DBs (perfect for e-commerce hosting). AWS pricing is lower and management is simpler if you're not running Windows on them (they also offer Windows systems, but they're not cost competitive with Azure for equivalent service in MOST cases). Azure is really unbeatable for Windows systems or for running anything in the MS ecosystem. So e-commerce and web hosting are better on Amazon. Internal/employee systems, email, Teams, Office, etc. are all better on Azure. These are generalizations. There are exceptions, but these hold true in most cases.
  • As a user of all the systems mentioned here, I don't see Amazon having much success there. Even if they gave everything away for free, I don't think they'd carve out much of MS' business: enterprises use Microsoft's services, not because they're cheaper than the competition, but because they're so cheap as to be practically free compared to the cost of labor (e.g. $10/mo/user that the same company is already paying thousands of dollars/mo) and yet they increase the value of every employee who uses them. While Slack may have been a key inspiration to Teams, it's now a pale substitute and no longer a serious threat. I don't see anything Slack could do in a reasonable timeframe to approach the feature-set built into Teams. The one crack I see in Microsoft's armor here is around Salesforce. Salesforce is the best at what it does. But it's already CRAZY expensive, more than twice what MS charges for it's "equivalent" (not as good) Dynamics CRM. But Salesforce is so expensive, most businesses only use it for the sales team, and while it integrates with more third party software than any of its competitors (including Dynamics CRM), it does not integrate nearly as well with other platforms as Dynamics CRM integrates with Microsoft's own Graph and Power BI systems. Still, if Amazon gets Salesforce and does something on its pricing and also bundles an entire office suite like Google does and improves the integration across those as well as MS has done across its enterprise tools, I could see a lot of Salesforce-focused enterprises moving the rest of their infrastructure to Amazon. But does Salesforce really want to be part of an Amazon system? They don't need any help. I would be a little surprised if they're interested in becoming part of an Amazon suite (but anything's possible).
  • The cost of switching is always the question of what is there to gain?
    So, if I leave MS 365 to whatever Amazon has to offer, what do I really gain? If it's not considerably cheaper, and performance is just as good, then what's the point?
    They may have a chance with new customers. But with MS shops, it's not just worth the hassle.
  • I hate SO MUCH Google and Amazon!!!
  • What is Amazon planning to call the M 365 Office suite alternative?
  • A 365 Office Suite.
  • These are the kinds of insider scoops WC's comment sections need.
  • So when do you see Amazon as a monopoly? Newspapers, digital store front, cloud computing, video games, grocery stores, airline, delivery service, Rockets, ect...
  • Being in a lot businesses doesn't make you a monopoly. You have to actually dominate the competition in those businesses.
  • "But between Office, Teams, and everything else Microsoft offers and subsequently dominates the market with, industry analysts weren't universally sold on the idea that Amazon stands a chance in direct competition." I could have told you that the very moment I saw the article's title
  • This is just Amazon doing the whole mentality of hay what are they doing okay let's try that to mentality
    Amazon
    Google
    Facebook
    There all the devil.
  • I think Facebook might literally be Satan's child, but for different reasons.
  • Blackberry once tried this. Google tried it. Canonical tried it (in a way). All failed. And Amazon has a string of failures when trying to gun for the leader: Their tablets used to be #1 by a huge margin, but not anymore, not even close; they tried their hand at the phone market but failed. They also don't really have a platform of their own, and MS's services are amazingly well integrated. But never say never. Amazon is a smart little company.
  • While it would be an uphill battle, one should never underestimate one's opponent. Especially Mr. Bezos and Amazon. You can bet your last dollar that Microsoft with their bundling of Microsoft 365 into the Amazon Store is doing just that. My Fire 10 was all decked out with Microsoft 365, but I finally let it go and went to a Surface Go2. Shortly thereafter the announcement came about Microsoft 365 being bundled with the Fire 10. My only comment was "The Game is afoot" and I was right!
  • I have to agree with your statement. Underestimating Amazon is not the right thing to do... But I also have to agree with general sentiment - fighting Microsoft in the productivity space will be very, very hard work...
  • Until there is a VIABLE alternative to Active Directory and Azure AD there is zero chance.
  • Ping. Okta. Jumpcloud.