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Microsoft Calls Out Google Over Docs Support

Microsoft is talking about how its customer support blows away that of Google, in what amounts to a new front in the two companies' battle for cloud computing supremacy.

Microsoft says it has a long history of delivering support by phone and e-mail as well as through online community sites like Microsoft Answers, which is staffed by Microsoft MVP partners. Google, in contrast, doesn't offer much in the way of support to its customers, according to Microsoft.

"When was the last time you called Google for help recovering a lost Google Doc? Were you even able to find a number? My guess is, no," Barbara Gordon, Microsoft corporate vice president of customer service and support, said in a Monday blog post.

Although Microsoft offers free, cloud-based versions of Office apps, Gordon raises the specter of cloud downtime, with the implication that on-premise Office is the best way to mitigate the risk. "After all, if you have a book report due at 8 a.m. the next day, you can’t afford to wait for your online applications to be available," Gordon said in the blog post.

Gordon also notes that enterprise customers can get support from Microsoft Services when deploying Office and SharePoint 2010. But although channel partners provide some of these support services, she doesn't mention this in the blog post. As a result, Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based solution provider, says Microsoft missed an opportunity to showcase one of its greatest strengths.

"They're not being clear enough about the great competitive advantage they have in the partner channel," said Sobel. "It's a big differentiator for them to point to their massive partner base that can support Microsoft solutions. That’s not something you're going to find with Google."

Microsoft has recently been stepping up efforts to highlight Google Apps' weaknesses, and the software giant often cites reliability and security issues, hidden operational costs, and document fidelity as reasons why Office 2010 is superior. Bringing support into the discussion could offer Microsoft the edge it's seeking, says Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a solution provider in Fresno, Calif.

"Microsoft has an army of partners that are on the front lines supporting their customers, providing local service and the all-important "facetime" that Google simply cannot compete with," Duffy said.

The good news for VARs is that it looks like Gordon simply overlooked mentioning partners in her support argument.

"We strongly believe that tightly integrated services offered by both Microsoft and our channel partners, the completeness of these offerings and the return on investment for our customers are what differentiate our offerings from our competitors," the spokesperson said in an email.

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