Microsoft Office, Google Apps Ready for a Business Brawl

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"Google is a Web company and it has the most resources to bring the enterprise to the Web," says Sheri McLeish, analyst at Forrester Research, adding that "mixed environments where Google complements Microsoft are the wave of the future."

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and previews of SharePoint 2010 -- see's SharePoint Bible. ]

However, McLeish is not convinced yet that Google is fully committed to the enterprise, saying that while Google's clean and simple user interface caught on with consumers, it may be too limited for businesses.

"For instance, Google Wave seemed like a good idea, but it needed a critical mass and didn't get it," says McLeish.

Google Apps and Office 2010: Prices and Features

Google Apps has a price tag of $50 per user per year that includes Gmail with 25GB of storage, Google Docs (word processing, spreadsheets and presentation creating tools) and other apps such as Google Sites and Google Talk. Google's Postini virus and spam protection also comes with the suite. There is an extra fee for message archiving of $13 or $33, depending on the duration of archiving needed.

Last month, Google revamped its Google Docs editing tool to improve speed and real-time collaboration, an area where Google Apps trumps Office.

[ Thinking about switching to Google Apps? Here's everything you need to know, from the tools it includes to security and privacy features: Google Apps FAQ.]

On the Microsoft Office side, price for the full suite range from $150 to $680 depending which of its many versions you are looking for. With Office 2010, Microsoft will be offering Office Web Apps, free but not fully-featured online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

There will be three versions of Web Apps: One for consumers supported by ads; a hosted version for businesses that pay for hosted accounts on Microsoft Online Services, which is powered by SharePoint; and a corporate in-house version for enterprises with volume licenses for Microsoft Office and a SharePoint server.

Office 2010 will launch for businesses on May 12, but Office Web Apps are not scheduled to launch until mid-June.

Microsoft also has BPOS (business productivity online suite) in its arsenal, a part of Microsoft Online services that includes online versions of SharePoint, Exchange, Office Communications Server and Live Meeting for $10 per user per month for all four apps.

Built for Enterprise vs. Built for Cloud

Despite the cost advantage of Google Apps -- an advantage perhaps even more attractive at a time of economic recession and a time when consumers are used to Web apps for home computing -- Forrester's research is not the only data showing Google trailing by a mile in the adoption race.

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