Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

Summary: The day before Microsoft's official unveiling (and general availability kick off) for Office 365, Google went on the offensive with a blog post entitled "365 reasons to consider Google Apps."

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June 28 is the launch of Microsoft's Office 365, its Google Apps competitor and successor to Microsoft's own Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) hosted app suite.

The day before Microsoft's official unveiling (and general availability kick off) for Office 365, Google went on the offensive with a blog post entitled "365 reasons to consider Google Apps."

The Google Enterprise post actually lists four areas where Google officials are touting their edge over Office 365. The four include Google's focus with Apps on team communication; its multi-client support; its pricing simplicity; and its reliability.

Microsoft's recent BPOS serivce problems definitely have been an issue for its customers and partners. Microsoft's new multi-tenant-centric design of Office 365 may help make the new platform more resilient than BPOS. And it's hard to deny Office 365's pricing/packaging complexity. I realize that there can be a trade-off between choice and simplicity, and Microsoft has gone for choice with its myriad Office 365 E plans, K plans, inclusion of a local Office client option, etc., and not a "one-price/package fits all" deal. Google doesn't have anywhere near the number of pricing options with Apps (though it did recently tweak its own pricing, establishing new criteria for SMBs).

But a couple of Google's reasons to question Office 365 seemed kind of odd to me. Take collaboration. Microsoft is very team-focused with Office 365. One of the main legs of the Office 365 stool is SharePoint Online, the Microsoft-hosted version of its SharePoint communication and collaboration platform. (The other main components of Office 365 are a Microsoft-hosted version of Exchange, known as Exchange Online; and a hosted version of the Lync unified communications product, known as Lync Online.)

Update: A Google spokesperson clarified and said the "team vs. individual" comparison in the Google post was about collaborating on/inside a document. He said Google's point is Office Web Apps are still confusing to many consumers (I won't disagree there), and that Office Web Apps doesn't support collaboration from within a document -- something Google has tried to remedy with Google Cloud Connect.

The Redmondians also are not ignoring the Web with Office 365 -- in spite of the inclusion of Office 2010 Professional Plus as an optional add-on for those interested in purchasing the Office suite on a subscription basis. Office Web Apps support is part of Office 365. Office Web Apps includes Webified versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint and works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

(Speaking of Chrome, Office Web Apps will "officially" support Chrome once Office 2010 Service Pack 1 is available. According to one blogger, Microsoft is planning to time its Office 2010 Service Pack 1 release with tomorrow's Office 365 launch, which makes a lot of sense.)

As it has done with its Azure platform, Microsoft has emphasized a hybrid approach with its cloud apps bundle. Users can run Exchange, SharePoint and Lync on servers in their own datacenters; run the Microsoft-hosted versions of these products as part of Office 365; and/or run a mix of these two sets of offerings. It's not a 100 percent cloud-based sales pitch, but many users I talk to prefer the hybrid approach to no software at all.

I've asked Microsoft officials if they have any comment on Google's post today, but have yet to hear back.

I'll be at the Office 365 launch in New York tomorrow and will be filing from there. If you have any questions you want me to ask about Microsoft's new hosted-app bundle, let me know and I'll try to get some answers.

See also:

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Google, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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37 comments
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  • SharePoint is not collaboration!

    I know Microsoft touts SharePoint as collaborative, but its about as collaborative as a Forum on the internet, or source code checkin/checkout. While I don't tout Google's word processing over Microsofts, one thing Google did do right is their collaborative editing which color codes in real time who is making the changes, etc. which is factors better than SharePoint. In fact, I have never ever seen SharePoint really work as a collaborative space, it always falls short and makes the simple, very painful!
    Emalamisura
    • collaboration

      Hi. If we're talking simple document collaboration, Office Web Apps enables some of those capabilities, as well... especially when used in conjunction with SharePoint Online. The color coding sounds helpful... I hate collaborating on docs, so I haven't tried myself. Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

        @Mary Jo Foley Everybody should be doing what they know best: Google with searches and Microsoft with office. <br><a href="http://www.ofertareonline.ro/ferestre-termopan.html">Termopan</a>
        termopane
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @Emalamisura

      You hit it... having been using Apps within our environment for over a year, and been testing office 365 - Google wins hands down on collaboration. In Docs, Spreadsheets, etc.. the realtime edits with color coded events, and document markup works really well - making it possible to have tens of users working on a single document at the same time without stepping on each other.... its great!

      -Dan
      danstl
    • Reason #1: we don't sort

      Must be one heck of sale pitch.
      LBiege
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @Emalamisura Maybe that's because SharePoint as a platform does a LOT of things - Content Manage and Document Collaboration? Version control, document management and the like are significantly better.

      Couple all that with the ability to control Office documents natively with full fidelity and you have a lot better option than the pig slop that is Google Docs.

      Also... pricing for microsoft is simple - if you are a small business (5-50 users) - get a K plan. If you are an Enterprise or need Blackberry use, etc get a E plan. The reason why there's so many options is because Microsoft has so many customers in the SMB and Enterprise space unlike Google.
      jessiethe3rd
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @Emalamisura <br>Are you sure that you know what you are talking about? It seems your enterprise is using only a limited set of functionality that SharePoint offers. SharePoint + BizTalk is the collaboration Platform that most of the enterprises use. If they don't see value in those, how SharePoint would bring a Billion $+ income to Microsoft?
      Ram U
      • Not to agree with you .....

        @Rama.NET .... but in his limited mind collaboration is just being able to have multiple people editing one document at the same time.
        wackoae
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      I haven't tried this myself, though a lot would say it's fine enough.


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      nuel.stein
  • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

    The webified versions of office don't have anywhere near the same functionality as either Google Apps or the desktop version of Office. Office 365 is like an add-on to the full version of Office where Google Apps is a web only app.

    There are benefits to each service but they are very different and difficult to compare accurately.
    Decomplexificat
    • Agreed

      Hi. I agree the two -- in spite of being head-to-head competitors (Google Apps and O365) are tough to compare fairly and accurately. And yes, Office Web Apps are still not as fully featured as Office -- and most likely never will be. MS itself calls Office Web Apps a "companion" to the client versions of its Office suite. They don't require Office to work, but work a lot better/more richly if you have Office on your PC or Mac. Thanks MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @Decomplexificat
      I don't know...the Office Web apps are just about as capable as Google Docs.
      x I'm tc
      • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

        @jdakula agreed...and from a UI perspective are a lot nicer IMO. Gdocs feels like it's from 2003.
        goombawa
  • Google is wrong on all counts

    Sharepoint is very collaborative. Google Apps still lacks a cohesive security and sharing strategy. How exactly do I provision a google web site to use LDAP provided groups instead of individual accounts... you can't.

    Productivity Anywhere --- ala Office 365. Google cannot maintain document fidelity from one platform to the next. Microsoft offers the same seamless experience whether on a smart phone, a Mac, or a PC.

    Affordable? Google keeps on forgetting to add in the costs of Postini and Blackberry Enterprise Servers and ....so on and so forth. Office 365, although the licensing can be confusing, offers a very simply method to understand what is and is not available. If Google thinks their pricing and features is easy to understand, then why is the City of LA gearing up for a potential lawsuit?

    Pure and proven cloud? quite frankly, Google's cloud experience is a failing, not a feature. With workspaces and outlook I can effectively work online and off. I can retain the data in house or cloud. I can pick and choose the right level of cloud vs. private that I need for my organization. Google offers a one-size-fits-all solution.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @facebook@...

      Umm we provision sites that use our LDAP groups all the time - its called Google Apps Directory Sync - we have our AD synced with OUs and Groups in Google apps, making it possible to do exactly that.

      -Dan
      danstl
      • GADS

        @danstl OK, I can start a whole new thread on the artificial throttling of GADS ands its inability to do meaningful incremental updates.

        However, what I am talking about is using groups in a security context, and not a mailing context. Try to add an AD group to a shared document.
        For that matter, try to share a single mailbox with 11 people.
        Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

      @facebook@...

      You can add security to a document based on group membership from our LDAP - same as mail. You can use all your LDAP groups in a security context to give access to documents, sites, any Google Apps resources, along with designate what OUs have access to what applications.

      You can also use their wonderful APIs to do mailbox delegation, though you can not do it on a per group basis, it is still 100% scriptable, and you can easily make a script to query the LDAP and designate a particular mailbox based on membership. We do it all the time.

      As far as throttling? I have no idea what your talking about - we can saturate our entire 50Mb fiber connection with apps - I can upload a video (or any large file) to docs and download at full speed, along with out 700+ users... so I am not sure what you are inferring...
      -Dan

      -Dan
      danstl
      • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

        @danstl I cannot find any documentation on group provisioning of Google Docs. The last time that I checked, it did not exist. This is especially true of nested groups.

        The OU delegation of services has existed for quite some time. I remember multiple phone calls with Google in 2009 and 2010 to try to make them understand the importance of that. Quite frankly, they did not get it but reluctantly added the capability to their roadmap based on mine and other large companies feedback.

        You cannot delegate 11 users to a mailbox, using either the APIs or through the interface.

        GADS is artificially throttled. Have you ever wondered why a seeminingly trivial thing like object syncing takes longer than it should? It is not the derby database. Run a Group sync, a User sync, and a contact sync simultanously in three jobs. With less than 800 users you may not have noticed the issue. With the thousands of objects that we had, it was a major issue.
        Your Non Advocate
  • They probally want people to forget that

    Google just pulled the plug on yet a few more of their offereings last week due to poor adoption, so this is just another competitor to Google Apps that Goolge doesn't want to have to deal with. It sounds like they're getting worried.<br><br>How long before they pull the plug on Google Apps?
    Will Pharaoh
  • RE: Google hits out at Office 365 the day before Microsoft's launch

    Google is right re collaboration superiority claims since Microsoft Office 365, while offers the necessary tools, does not integrate them to promote team collaboration. I have used and deployed both, and from collaboration and feature standpoint, Google is king.
    metalcrit