Stowe Boyd> Ironically, the Investment phase is also where Office faces its greatest competitive threat. Recently, industry trends have begun to chip away atSee more the strength of Microsoft's hook. For one, products like Google Docs and [Apple's iWork](https://www.apple.com/creativity-apps/mac/up-to-date/) remove a major form of investment from the equation by making the software free (at least for individual users). Second, file formats are now interoperable meaning that when a colleague sends a Word doc, that file can just as easily be opened as a Google Doc.
> Finally, the skills users acquired to use Office are, for the most part, transferable to competitors' products. Switching to the Google Doc or iWork interface is not perfectly seamless, but given these products work and look very similar to Microsoft's, the transition is not that onerous for all but the most powerful of power-users. Some would even say competitors have bested Microsoft's feature bloat with minimalist designs that emphasize only the most crucial functionality.
> What's more, Google's early moves to differentiate its products by making them collaboration tools, added a new type of reward to their hook. Allowing users to work together in real-time over the web suddenly made boring enterprise software social by incorporating what I call, [Rewards of the Tribe](http://www.nirandfar.com/2013/02/designing-to-reward-our-tribal-sides.html). Microsoft has taken pains to make its tools more social, but here again, old habits die hard. Whereas Google's products are built with in-browser collaboration at their core, Microsoft's users will have to learn new behaviors outside their existing routines.
> The power of the Office hook depends on getting new users to invest in the product by learning the software, creating documents, and eventually paying for it. Microsoft's Qi Lu [acknowledged](http://recode.net/2014/03/28/microsofts-qi-lu-on-trying-to-make-office-a-habit-again-qa/) that many users, particularly younger ones, have never acquired the Office habit.
> "This world is changing," Lu said. "It's driven by cloud and mobile devices, certainly a new generation coming to embrace those devices. They may not necessarily have been exposed (to Office)." Lu went on, "Within the next 12 months or so around the world, over two billion people will be using cloud-connected mobile devices...Those people may not necessarily have used Office before..." Though Lu views this as an opportunity, he must also know it is a daunting threat. If would-be Office users form habits with his competitors' products instead of his, he's sunk.
> Today, several trends conspire against the Microsoft habit. Yet despite the current challenges ahead of Lu and his team, Microsoft Office sits in an enviable position. After all, Office is used by [more than a billion people](http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsoft-s-Office-Has-Over-One-Billion-Users-280426.shtml) worldwide.