Google renames hosted Gmail service

Google Apps for your domain was officially announced yesterday, but the service has been around since February -- well at least part of it.  The big news from the announcement is their addition of Google Pages and the expected addition of Writely and Google Spreadsheets.

Google Apps for your domain was officially announced yesterday, but the service has been around since February -- well at least part of it.  The big news from the announcement is their addition of Google Pages and the expected addition of Writely and Google Spreadsheets.

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I am impressed by how this service has grown from a hosted Gmail solution to a complete communication suite for businesses -- including Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk.  If you are accepted into the beta program, you will enjoy free licensing for the number of user accounts Google grants you, even after the program is out of beta.

"*Organizations accepted by Google during the Google Apps for Your Domain beta period are eligible for free service for their approved beta users even beyond the end of the beta period, as described in the Terms of Service." -- source
I have been administering (with varying degrees of success) the hosted Gmail solution for over a month -- it was an extremely easy transition from our previous solution, and users love the new interface with less spam.  The only beef I have is the lack of support if (and when) things go wrong. 

For example, a few times I had problems with users checking their email through Outlook -- their POP account seemed to be corrupt or locked out.  There is no phone support yet, so if something like this happens, you have to submit the support form and hope for it to start working again.  All the accounts experiencing problems have been fixed in my case, but I never once received an email explaining what happened or if it happens again who to contact for quicker service.

A lot of these hosted applications can be considered "mission critical" -- so when the administrator receives a complaint from a user, the last thing they want to hear is "I will submit the help form on Google's website... I don't know when/if it will be fixed".  To be fair though, I can understand the service is still in beta and users aren't paying for technical support (yet).  However, once the service leaves beta, users will expect and demand quality support.

Who knows, maybe one day they will offer free technical support through Google Talk?

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