Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

Summary: As of November 18, Google Apps -- the primary competitor of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Office 365 successor -- has gone from being a bundle of eight apps to one with 60. Sort of....

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As of November 18, Google Apps -- the primary competitor of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Office 365 successor -- has gone from being a bundle of eight apps to one with 60. Sort of....

As you might have guessed, the change is more about naming than anything else. As Microsoft did in October with its Office 365 launch, Google is getting its branding house in order. Google is simplifying the names of the existing Google Apps SKUs.

As of today, there are four Google Apps SKUs:

  • Google Apps, the entry-level free offering for up to 50 users
  • Google Apps for Business for $50 per user per year
  • Google Apps for Government for local, state and federal agencies
  • Google Apps for Education for schools and nonprofits

Microsoft recently changed the branding of its set of Microsoft-hosted applications with the launch of Office 365. Microsoft has not released a final SKU list for Office 365 (due to start rolling out early next year). But I'm thinking it will look something like this:

  • Office 365 Basic (Deskless Worker) for $24 per year
  • Office 365 Standard for $324 per year (including a Office Professional Plus to install locally)
  • Office 365 Dedicated
  • Office 365 Federal
  • Office 365 for Education (the rebranded Live @edu)
  • Office 365 Small Business (the rebranded Office Live Small Business) for $72 per year
  • Office 365 plus CRM Online

(Microsoft has said it also will continue to offer standalone versions of SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.)

For more on Office 365, check out my recent "Office 365 Essentials" webcast

Google also is doing something that Microsoft -- at least so far -- is not. It is moving a number of its existing services, like iGoogle, Google Alerts, Google Reader and Picasa under the Google Apps brand. (That's how Google can say it now has 60 apps in the Google Apps family.) These are all add-on, optional applications that can be "turned on" or off by employee or group, according to Google officials.

Google officials said the idea behind the move is to allow business users to take advantage of apps and services normally construed as consumer. Example: Employees in a Google Apps customer's art department could turn on Picasa to manage photos.

Microsoft had bad experiences with renaming many products under the .Net brand, and again, with overdoing it with the "Windows Live" name. In both cases, Microsoft pulled back and rethought its over-zealous branding strategy.

One possible exception may be Dynamics CRM 2011, which Microsoft has said will be an add-on to Office 365. (Exactly how it will be added and priced is still not public information). Microsoft always could opt to make things like Windows Live Messenger or its soon-to-be-released Kinect Video plug-in (for connecting its Kinect sensor to its Lync unified communications platform) part of the Office 365 family. I'm doubtful the Softies will go that route, but never say never, I guess...

In other Google vs. Microsoft news, I've seen some competitive confusion regarding Google's just-announced Docs to Go capability. Microsoft offers some of this functionality already with Office Web Apps. (Office Web Apps lets users on certain mobile phones -- and other platforms -- view and edit their Webified Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps.) Office Web Apps works with selected browsers on  Windows Phones, iPhone, Blackberries and some Nokia phones.

Update: To be fair, Office Web Apps access still is fairly limited on most mobile phones. On Windows Phone 7, you can view and do some editing. On the other phones, you can view only.

"The editing experience on Windows Phone 7 works for Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) received via email, saved on your phone, or accessed via SharePoint, as well as OneNote via SkyDrive," said a spokesperson I asked for clarification. On other supported phones, documents may be viewed by not edited, the spokesperson said, but there are some third-party tools that enable both viewing and editing of Office docs on other mobile platforms.

Google Docs to Go enables viewing and editing on Android with Froyo (version 2.2) and on iOS devices (version 3.0+) including the iPad.

Do you think Microsoft should make other optional add-ons part of Office 365, as Google is doing with Google Apps? Or is this a cosmetic change that may result in more confusion than choice, in your view?

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Cloud, 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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12 comments
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  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    HAH! Again we have Google copying Microsoft.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    It seems that the cost is very High when compared to Google's offerings...
    hkzdnyeung
    • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

      @hkzdnyeung
      If you don't care about privacy/security then google is your choice. But for me the cost of free is too high.
      Stan57
      • What makes you think Microsoft have ever been that good...

        Regarding privacy/security?

        Or do the majestic herds of active malware that sweep all over all sorts of Windows systems not actually exist?
        zkiwi
    • You get what you pay for

      @hkzdnyeung

      No doubt the Google service is cheaper. If they were the same price Google would win zero business other than Google fanboys. I find it amusing that they compare BPOS/Office365 to Google Apps.

      My only real concern is the addition of Office Pro Plus included with the license. That's fine and dandy for those who don't already have the licensing, and going forward it's cost effective for those using the service, but several of my BPOS clients already own a MOLP version of Office 2007/2010. Hopefully they maintain the $120/year version without Office.
      LiquidLearner
  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    Let's not kid ourselves: the constraints on enterprise adoption have more to do with end-user resistance to change, and file compatibility, than any other topics. These challenges apply to MSFT (Office 03 to 10 for example) as well as to Google.
    ScottBraden
  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    BPOS sounds to me as "Big Piece Of S...". Somebody needs to change MS' bad branding habits
    nomorebs
  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    Yes, they should make the other add on's instead of relying on third parties to built the solutions that their users want.
    smithwm@...
  • Competition

    brings down costs and fuels innovation. This is good. Bring it on Google and Microsoft.
    bmonsterman
  • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

    my biggest issue with office - besides the obvious expense is it's reliance on running on your desktop. Docs that I need to have regardless of an untimely pc death (which we all knows happens too often with windows) are better kept in the cloud. Since I don't have a million of these critical docs - I don't feel the need to pay for a service to host them- google apps nicely filled that void for me.

    Had Office 365 been free on an entry level option I would have used them. End of the day reliable wins in my book - Microsoft needs to develop more reliable platforms before I entrust my docs to them in the cloud.

    case in point - my hotmail and xbox accounts got hacked a couple of years back. I had that hotmail account from before it was even owned by Microsoft. I had the Xbox account since back in the live beta tests. Microsoft never recovered the accounts - oh we are sorry we botched security on your accounts - here is some free MsPoints.

    There are good reasons people don't want to entrust their digital lives to Microsoft believe it.
    DS-Solutions
    • RE: Google renames, bulks up Google Apps, following Microsoft's Office 365 rebranding

      @DS-Solutions -> "Had Office 365 been free on an entry level option I would have used them."

      You should look at http://docs.com/ for Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It's in beta but it is free according to the front page.
      PollyProteus
  • Microsoft Lethargy

    When you have a company and a platform that has lived high on the hog for a long time. It can be hard for them to get back into the game. Think about a Heavyweight Fighter that has held the belt for 10 years without any hungry challengers. He is lazy, has been eating good and when it comes to the time for a fight he swings slow punches and his timing is off and he just seems like he can't seem to get back into the fight. Since he was a champion he gives a couple good blows to the opponent every now and then, but this hungry challenger is relentless and eventually that old champion will fall.

    Sound familiar.....
    migrationking