On the eve of Microsoft's official launch of Microsoft Office 365, the cloud version of its long-standing Microsoft Office productivity suite, Google has drawn its sword and is prepared to strike.
Google on Monday detailed a host of reasons -- not the 365 promised, but still plenty -- to avoid Microsoft Office 365 in favor of its cloud collaboration and communication suite Google Apps.
Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 will be direct competitors in the cloud productivity suite arena. The two tech titans have had a contentious cloud combat for the past few years as each seeks to one-up the other on the features and functions and with cloud customer wins in their respective bids to capture the cloud crown.
Google also took early action against Office 365 last week by teaming up with Box.net for Google Apps integration that adds the ability to leverage Google Docs directly from their Box accounts.
Google Apps Product Manager Shan Sinha outlined several areas in which the company says Google Apps excels against Microsoft Office 365: Google Apps is made for teams, not individuals; Apps is built for choice, while Office 365 is built for Microsoft; Google Apps is simple and affordable; and Google Apps is pure and proven.
According to Sinha, Google Apps is made for teams to collaborate, while Microsoft Office 365 is made for individuals.
"With Apps you can work with multiple people in the same document," Sinha said. There's no need to worry about whether or not it's possible to share a spreadsheet, or co-edit a presentation. You can see people type in real time, and share a file in just two clicks. Discussions bring people into your documents for rich conversations. You don't need to buy additional licenses to work with others, or hope people outside your company have upgraded to the same software. If you have a Google account, you can collaborate."
Meanwhile, Sinha wrote that Office 365 is optimized for Windows-based PCs and devices, while Google Apps is supported on any device or operating system including desktops, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets and smartphones; and Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Mobile devices to enable editing on the go, mobile sharing and moving work between devices.
And Sinha said Google keeps pricing plans and editions simple. According to Sinha, Microsoft Office 365 has 11 different plans, three distinct editions and two tiers, while Apps is $5 per user per month with no commitment.
"We have a single, transparent, low price that meets everyone's needs, and it hasn't changed in 4 years. There's no extras for basics like phone support and robust productivity apps. No long term contracts or opaque enterprise agreements," Sinha wrote, later adding: "We also don't lock you in. By design, we make it as easy as possible for you to move off of Google Apps if you want. We have a dedicated team of engineers whose sole goal is to help you get your data in and out of our products for free. We believe that the way to keep you long term is to continue to innovate and make our products better so that you choose to stay with us."
Additionally, Sinha said Google bests Microsoft in its native ties to the Web. Google claims that Office 365 is still designed for the desktop; and Google Apps is accessed via a browser with no client software to install, secure and maintain and upgrades are pushed to customers.
"You can't just take legacy, desktop software, move some of it to a data center and call it 'cloud,'" Sinha wrote. "Apps was born for the Web and we've been serving hundreds of millions of users for years."