With a US presidential campaign in full swing and a current president at his term limit, the world is prepared for changes in Washington, DC. But abandoning Microsoft Office?
Enter the dark horse Google Apps - the new platform for day-to-day business operations in DC - now that Vivek Kundra, Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia, has decided to switch the District's 38,000 employees from the installed Microsoft Office suite to the Web-based Google suite.
According to Bloomberg, the Google contract - signed in June to the tune of an estimated $500,000 a year - will replace the District's current email, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs with Google's Web-based versions.
While this change won't be taking place in the Oval Office, it's still worth noting. The win marks a big step forward for Google Apps, which a little over a year ago, was still a viable target for Microsoft finger-wagging campaigns, decrying Google Apps' viability.
That view is definitely changing.
Earlier this year, Bernard Lunn hypothesized that Google Apps had become a true threat to Microsoft Office:
"Solid economic engine, good on collaboration/mobile, increasingly mature/ready for prime time...Yes, Google Docs looks like a major winner."
And this move by the DC CTO seems to validate that hypothesis.
With "belt tightening" on everyone's lips, the decision to move from the entrenched Microsoft offering to a more affordable solution could draw attention - especially given Kundra's focus on delivering more technological power at a lower cost:
"When I moved to Washington, I had more computing power on my laptop at the local coffee shop than the average police officer or teacher. We looked at the cloud computing model and the consumer space. Compared with the cost of owning infrastructure, it's far cheaper."
Granted, one Google win over Microsoft doesn't necessarily signal a trend. But the win is significant for Google, nonetheless. It becomes even more noteworthy considering that the customer is a local government, a market which has traditionally been slow to embrace the latest technologies.
If DC's willingness to abandon Microsoft Office indicates that Google Apps' user base has truly moved beyond bleeding-edge adopters, this could mark the beginning of a very interesting trend.