If you're a Google Apps domain administrator, you get notices about updates and improvements to Apps pretty frequently. Apps detractors call this "Google's perpetual beta mindset" and refer to their engineers' "throw it against a wall and see what sticks" approach. Those of us who use Apps regularly, however, can not only disable the "most beta" features but also tend to value the ready availability of new updates without cost, installation, or intervention.
The most recent updates were announced Wednesday, the most significant of which further simplifies the migration from Outlook to Google Apps. As the announcement outlined,
With Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook®, you can: - Import mail, calendars, and personal contacts, either all at once or in separate stages - Import only mail sent before or after a specific date - Skip importing Junk E-mail and Deleted items - Exclude specific mail folders from being imported (requires running the command-line utility) - Monitor the progress of your migration - Easily pause and resume the migration - Run subsequent migrations that import only new data (not data that's already been imported)
While web-based email access may be old hat for user accustomed to Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, or Gmail, those who have built workflows and personal information management around Outlook often find it very hard to let it go. The advantages of accessing email anytime, anywhere are clear, but the more tools you can provide to ease the transition for Outlook users, the better. Too often, administrators simply end up enabling POP or IMAP access to a user's Apps account so that they can continue using Outlook. However, this clearly misses the point of Apps, the real benefits of which depend to a large extent on the fact that they are cloud-based and not tied to a particular client machine.
In addition to the improved migration tool, Google also announced new enhancements to the Docs interface, including:
- Faster find: Press Ctrl+F (⌘+F on Macs) to see a dropdown box where you can type the word or phrase you’re looking for in your document. As you type, all the matches in the doc will get highlighted and you can press your' enter' key to jump to the next match. - Bookmarks in the link dialogue: If you’ve added bookmarks to your document, you’ll also see these bookmarks as options when you create a new link.
As one reader put it on Twitter,
Google Docs keeps surprising me. It's getting better and better. MS's launch of web support is very, very late.