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Google Vs. Microsoft, For Real

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 27, 2006

So Google’s moving forcefully at last into the business software market, at least in a test version. Google Apps for Your Domain, will let small businesses, nonprofits, and universities use, inside their own Internet domain, a free package of services that include Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk text and voice messaging, and Google Page Creator.

Clearly, it’s potential competition for Microsoft’s Office suite, as many observers note. Later, Google plans to offer a paid version that likely would be more attractive to larger businesses.

It’s also clear this is a baby step for now. Dave Girouard, general manager of Google’s enterprise division, says Google isn’t aiming to compete with Office. And maybe he’s not being completely disingenuous: Fact is, once you start doing tasks online, with a constant connection to colleagues and other people taken for granted rather than grafted on by force, those tasks evolve into something rather different than any desktop app. So whatever it turns out to be, it’s not going to be an Office clone, since nobody needs that.

Still, competition it is—especially since Girouard also acknowledges that its word-processing service from recently acquired Writely, as well as its Google Spreadsheet service, are possible additions to the suite. He even goes so far as to call it a platform.

Which raises an interesting possibility: Would Google consider letting outside developers offer their services on this platform, so companies could finely customize their online office applications not just with Google’s own apps but from others as well? Google didn’t say so, and frankly I’m doubtful they’d cede that control. But that could be very attractive, especially given the explosion of interesting Web 2.0 services out there. And it sure would distinguish Google Apps from Office. It might not even be such a crazy idea, since is already pushing the same idea with its AppExchange.

In any case, the battle between the two tech titans is now undeniably engaged—this time, on Microsoft’s home turf.

Update: a response from a rival with a sense of humor.

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Reader Comments


September 1, 2006 12:08 PM

More sense of humor here :-)

Michael Stone

September 14, 2006 03:48 PM

Microsoft has had no luck battling Google on their turf. Let's see if they can fend them off on their own territory. I just made a post about Googles continued ascent. I think Microsoft is in trouble. This is a battle they do not seem likely to win.

.NET Hoster

December 18, 2006 05:32 PM

FYI: Intermedia.NET - who posted a press release sort of rebuttal to this, is now offering a FREE trial of its Exchange 2007 for December. They're also giving away a free copy of Outlook.


February 10, 2007 11:27 PM

Has anyone tried the online MS Office testdrive? Granted, it's not meant to be used for actual production, but could MS be prepping Office in case this software-as-a-service issue takes off?

try it at: -- it uses a metaframe type tag to embed the program as opposed to scripting, but still...

hugh walker

June 12, 2007 05:12 PM

I am just an old fellow representing an AARP section of society who occasionally pokes around the internet. But as we learn we are becoming more productive, and more interested in the availability of information.

I personally use Yahoo, as I find Google treats me like a retarded student, and will not let me go but sends me to detention.

Therefore, whenever I see Google on a page, I shut down and start again.


November 22, 2007 05:06 AM

Which one is better between Microsoft and Google?

Better working Environment(Google/microsoft)?

Better office look(Google/microsoft)?

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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