New data visualization apps for Excel 2013 could help Microsoft hang on to customers looking for better data visualization tools.
Google brings pay-as-you-go model to Chromebooks
Remember Chromebooks? The tablet computers running Google's Chrome OS, which is basically the Chrome browser writ large?
You're forgiven if you don't, as they haven't exactly taken the consumer world by storm. But they are gradually finding their way into some organizations who want a cheap way to grant users access to web-based applications like Google Apps. In fact, Google moved Chrome and Apps into the same Google business unit last year, and Google is actively marketing Chromebooks to businesses and schools.
Today, Google brought Chrome a little bit more into the business world with a new program that will let organizations rent the devices. Prices start at $30 per month and decrease over time. Businesses who want a simpler non-mobile solution can rent Chromeboxes (Chrome OS computers that plug into a monitor) starting at $25 per month.
This kind of flexibility is typical of new-breed SaaS services, from Salesforce to Amazon Web Services. Traditional software companies eventually followed along -- Microsoft, for instance, offers this pay-per-use pricing for Office 365, Windows Azure, and other online services.
With hardware, it's also somewhat common in the consumer world. Think about the rental fee you pay each month for your cable modem, or the subsidized cell phone contracts that let you spread the actual cost of the hardware out over two years.
But most enterprises prefer to pay for hardware, then upgrade it with new purchases on a rolling basis. That certainly makes sense for long-term employees -- even with the Chromebook program, after about 18 months, the rental payments would be equal to the cost of a new Chromebook. (Ignoring the tax implications of buying versus renting.)
But for businesses with lots of seasonal employees, like retail stores staffing up for the holiday season, renting hardware might actually make sense.
Surface has been a stiff so far, but Microsoft reportedly has big expectations for its next fiscal year. Here's why the company may not be crazy.
Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
Although Apple is often accused of not being an enterprise company, it's only in the last few years that Apple has abandoned its enterprise-oriented products. The real story may be that Apple's discovered that making enterprise-focused efforts simply don't deliver a huge return on investment.
Majority of Windows 8 PC owners launch less than one app a day