Up till now, Microsoft has been very quiet about the nascent Web Office threat from Google. But today, in response to the news that IT systems consultancy CapGemini has partnered with Google to sell Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) to enterprises, Microsoft issued an email listing 10 “top questions that enterprises should ask when considering the switch to GAPE.” The questions read more like reasons why enterprises shouldn’t choose Google Apps. This list was first published by Mary Jo Foley, who says it was an unsolicited email from a Microsoft “corporate spokesperson”.
The 10 reasons make for fascinating reading – and show just how concerned Microsoft really is about not only Google Apps, but Web Office in general. Here is a copy of the email list:
Äú1. Google touts having enterprise level customers but how many ÄúUSERSÄ? of their applications truly exist within the enterprise?
Äú2. Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a Äúknown only to GoogleÄ? schedule Äì this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners Äì what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?
Äú3. Google touts the low cost of their apps Äìnot only price but the absence of need for hardware, storage or maintenance for Google Apps. BUT if GAPE is indeed a complement to MSFT Office, the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain. DoesnÄôt this result in increased complexity and increased costs?
Äú4. GoogleÄôs primary focus is on ad funded search. Their enterprise focus and now apps exist on the very fringe and in combination with other fringe services only account for 1% of the companyÄôs revenue. What happens if Google executes poorly? Do they shut down given it will them in a minimal and short term way? Should customers trust that this wonÄôt happen?
Äú5. GoogleÄôs apps only work if an enterprise has no power users, employees are always online, enterprises havenÄôt built custom Office apps Äì doesnÄôt this equal a very small % of global information workers today? ÄìOn a feature comparison basis, itÄôs not surprising that Microsoft has a huge lead.
Äú6. Google apps donÄôt have essential document creation features like support for headers, footers, tables of content, footnotes, etc. Additionally, while customers can collaborate on basic docs without the above noted features, to collaborate on detailed docs, a company must implement a two part process Äì work together on the basic doc, save it to Word or Excel and then send via email for final edits. Yes they have a $50 price tag, but with the inefficiencies created by just this one cycle, how much do GAPE really cost Äì and can you afford the fidelity loss?
Äú7. Enterprise companies have to constantly think about government regulations and standards Äì while Google can store a lot of data for enterprises on Google servers, there is no easy to use, automated way for enterprises to regularly delete data, issue a legal hold for specific docs or bring copies into the corp. What happens if a company needs to respond to government regulations bodies? Google touts 99.9% uptime for their apps but what few people realize that promise is for Gmail only. Equally alarming is the definition Google has for ÄúdowntimeÄ? Äì ten consecutive minutes of downtime. What happens if throughout the day Google is down 7 minutes each hour? What does 7 minutes each hour for a full work day that cost an enterprise?
Äú8. In the world of business, it is always on and always connected. As such, having access to technical support 24/7 is essential. If a company deploys Google Apps and there is a technical issue at 8pm PST, Sorry. GoogleÄôs tech support is open M-F 1AM-6PM PST Äì are these the new hours of global business? And if a customerÄôs Äúdesignated administratorÄ? is not available (a requirement) does business just stop?
Äú9. Google says that enterprise customers use only 10% of the features in todayÄôs productivity applications which implies that EVERYONE needs the SAME 10% of the feature when in fact it is very clear that in each company there are specific roles people play that demands access to specific information Äì how does GoogleÄôs generic strategy address role specific needs?
Äú10. With Google apps in perpetual beta and Google controlling when and if they rollout specific features and functionality, customers have minimal if any control over the timing of product rollouts and features Äì how do 1) I know how to strategically plan and train and 2) get the features and functionality I have specifically requested? How much money does not knowing cost?
ÄúI invite you to speak with customers, partners and analysts who can validate OfficeÄôs business model.Ä?
There’s no doubt these are compelling reasons why an enterprise should choose Microsoft Office over Google Apps, at this point. But it’s noticeable that the list doesn’t mention the word “collaboration”, which is probably the key benefit of Google Apps compared to MS Office.
Nor does Microsoft adequately rebut that Google Apps will be a complement to Microsoft Office (as CapsGemini and Google claimed yesterday). Microsoft says in point 3 that “the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain.” But that doesn’t address the features that Google Apps offers and how it might complement an enterprise’s office software set-up.
What do you make of Microsoft’s response? It certainly brings up some valid criticisms of Google Apps and Web Office, but then Google isn’t claiming their product is a replacement of MS Office. Their stance is that it’s a complement – and so in that respect this list by a Microsoft spokesperson is probably an over-reaction. It looks like someone in Redmond hit the panic button a bit too early.