Google takes office software fight to Microsoft

Google has begun competing directly with Microsoft in the office software space through the roll-out of its free-to-try Google Apps Premier Edition.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  February 22, 2007

Google has begun competing directly with Microsoft in the office software space through the roll-out of its free-to-try Google Apps Premier Edition. Unveiled today, this suite solution offers a range of low-cost, “zero maintenance” software programs that are now free for any business users to try and will then cost US $50 per user from April onwards. The theory is that office workers can access these tools directly through the internet rather than having to buy and install a system such as competitor Microsoft’s Office 2007. Google Apps Premier Edition specifically includes online e-mail, a calendar function, messaging and talk applications, as well as online word processor and spreadsheet applications. While consumers have had access to a consumer version of Google Apps since last summer, this new corporate-aimed edition packs in several business-ready enhancements. “Businesses are looking for applications that are simple and intuitive for employees, but also offer security, reliability and manageability,” commented Dave Girouard, the VP and general manager of Google’s Enterprise division. For example, Google Apps Premier Edition features application programming interfaces that firms can use to integrate this suite with their own applications. A ten gigabyte version of Googlemail (AKA Gmail) is also being offered, plus Google is also offering service level agreements that promise 99.9% uptime and 24/7 technical support. It’s arguably the price of this solution however with which Google hopes to draw users away from Gates and co., as the whole Google Apps Premier Edition costs just US $50 per user from April onwards (until then the suite is free to try). This compares to approximately $499 for a standalone copy of Office 2007 Professional Edition (though OEM versions equate to less cost). It’s worth noting that Apps Premium does not include a directly competing presentation tool to Microsoft Powerpoint. Microsoft is itself increasingly looking at providing more comprehensive online office services and tools via its own Windows Live web strategy. This comprises a range of web-based productivity tools, however many of these still appear to be in the early trial stages and have yet to go fully ‘live’.

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