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Microsoft on Google Apps

Since it?s launch last February, Microsoft has been tight-lipped on it?s Office Suite?s competitor, Google Web Office. Responding to the news that CapGemini, a IT systems consultancy has partnered with Google to sell Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) to enterprises, Microsoft issued an email listing 10 “top questions that enterprises should ask when considering the switch to GAPE.” The email was one of few newsletters filling up my mailbox and upon reading closely, it seems more like reasons why enterprises shouldn’t choose Google Apps.

The list is an interesting reading – one that went well with my coffee in the morning. Here is a copy of the message:

?1. Google touts having enterprise level customers but how many ?USERS? of their applications truly exist within the enterprise?

?2. Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a ?known only to Google? schedule ? this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners ? what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?

?3. Google touts the low cost of their apps ?not only price but the absence of need for hardware, storage or maintenance for Google Apps. BUT if GAPE is indeed a complement to MSFT Office, the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain. Doesn?t this result in increased complexity and increased costs?

?4. Google?s primary focus is on ad funded search. Their enterprise focus and now apps exist on the very fringe and in combination with other fringe services only account for 1% of the company?s revenue. What happens if Google executes poorly? Do they shut down given it will them in a minimal and short term way? Should customers trust that this won?t happen?

?5. Google?s apps only work if an enterprise has no power users, employees are always online, enterprises haven?t built custom Office apps ? doesn?t this equal a very small % of global information workers today? ?On a feature comparison basis, it?s not surprising that Microsoft has a huge lead.

?6. Google apps don?t have essential document creation features like support for headers, footers, tables of content, footnotes, etc. Additionally, while customers can collaborate on basic docs without the above noted features, to collaborate on detailed docs, a company must implement a two part process ? work together on the basic doc, save it to Word or Excel and then send via email for final edits. Yes they have a $50 price tag, but with the inefficiencies created by just this one cycle, how much do GAPE really cost ? and can you afford the fidelity loss?

?7. Enterprise companies have to constantly think about government regulations and standards ? while Google can store a lot of data for enterprises on Google servers, there is no easy to use, automated way for enterprises to regularly delete data, issue a legal hold for specific docs or bring copies into the corp. What happens if a company needs to respond to government regulations bodies? Google touts 99.9% uptime for their apps but what few people realize that promise is for Gmail only. Equally alarming is the definition Google has for ?downtime? ? ten consecutive minutes of downtime. What happens if throughout the day Google is down 7 minutes each hour? What does 7 minutes each hour for a full work day that cost an enterprise?

?8. In the world of business, it is always on and always connected. As such, having access to technical support 24/7 is essential. If a company deploys Google Apps and there is a technical issue at 8pm PST, Sorry. Google?s tech support is open M-F 1AM-6PM PST ? are these the new hours of global business? And if a customer?s ?designated administrator? is not available (a requirement) does business just stop?

?9. Google says that enterprise customers use only 10% of the features in today?s productivity applications which implies that EVERYONE needs the SAME 10% of the feature when in fact it is very clear that in each company there are specific roles people play that demands access to specific information ? how does Google?s generic strategy address role specific needs?

?10. With Google apps in perpetual beta and Google controlling when and if they rollout specific features and functionality, customers have minimal if any control over the timing of product rollouts and features ? how do 1) I know how to strategically plan and train and 2) get the features and functionality I have specifically requested? How much money does not knowing cost?

?I invite you to speak with customers, partners and analysts who can validate Office?s business model.?

I have little doubt on MS?s points on why the Office Suite is a lot better than Google Apps but considering Microsoft?s reaction, it?s obvious that Redmond?s FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) campaign isn?t focused solely on the Linux OS.

The letter does bring up some decent criticisms of Google Apps and Web Office, but then Google isn’t claiming their product is a replacement of MS Office, there?s Open Office for that. While I respect Google?s servers for their robustness, I am really doubtful about hosting your important files on a 3rd party?s drive. Income statements, legal documents and the like should be stored under lock and key

Looking at point 2, it seems to be a glaring challenge. We all know MS?s fancy of releasing pre-Beta softwares their fancy for patching things up after the cash rolls in and it comes as no surprise that the company points the taunting finger at the completion.

Point 3 has MS insisting that “the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain.” It may be true for a non-web-based company, but taking to consideration that most businesses are already beefing their IT departments up the judgment is 50/50. However, it doesn’t address the features that Google Apps offers and how it might complement an enterprise’s office software set-up.

The letter fails to mention however that that Google Apps will be a complement to Microsoft Office (as CapsGemini and Google claimed yesterday).

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  1. Ron September 11, 2007 Reply

    Big time decision makers rarely listen to Microsoft’s rants on the competition anyway. =)

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