Google Competes With Microsoft’s Office Suite for Big Business

Google has just announced that it will offer an online-based office suite to large businesses. The suite, in direct competition with Microsoft Office (during the current Vista push) will offer email, calendar management, spreadsheets and word processing tools for a competitive $50 per year per user — far below the current cost of maintaining the latest version of office.The current free version of Google Apps will be upgraded for the business users and will include full technical support, the promise of 99.9% uptime and larger email boxes (10 gigs!).

The timing of this roll out has been called “brutal” toward Microsoft, while the big boy MS is in the midst of convincing current clients to upgrade to Office 2007 (which carries a pricetag that begins at 239 for an upgrade/$399 for a full version of the standard and soars to $539 upgrade/$679 for office, according to the Microsoft site).

It may not be a serious threat to power-users of the MS suite, but I’d be willing to bet that it will forestall the adoption of the latest 2007 version, especially for small companies and those companies who use primarily the basic functionality of the office suites.

Also, having the ability to access this information online from any location will also appeal to those folks running mobile machines. Let’s face it, MS Office is a resource hog — especially the new version (I know, I’ve been running it for months through the beta and technical refresh and now the market version trial). If you can clean that off your system and if you usually can access the Internet, why wouldn’t you give this a try? It’s a small investment for a potentially huge annual savings.

Personally, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with Google’s privacy policy enough to have them handle my mission critical information — but I currently use the free version of the apps for collaborative projects that aren’t particularly sensitive and don’t require complete privacy.

Google is offering a free trial through the end of April for those who wish to try the new offerings.