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Microsoft 365 Promo Takes Shot At Google G Suite

Wade Tyler Millward

‘If you’re a small business that’s relied on G Suite legacy free edition, we couldn’t help but notice you might be in the market for a new solution,’ according to a Microsoft post.

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In a direct shot at Google, productivity applications rival Microsoft has announced a promotion to help G Suite legacy free edition users move to a Microsoft 365 subscription.

The offer is for current G Suite legacy free edition users who purchase a 12-month Microsoft 365 subscription by Aug. 2, according to a Microsoft post published Thursday.

The subscriptions come with Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, custom domain support and access to Office applications. For U.S. customers, the deal also includes a free year of support with Business Assist for M365.

[RELATED: End Of The Line For Google Cloud’s G Suite Legacy Free Edition]

“If you’re a small business that’s relied on G Suite legacy free edition, we couldn’t help but notice you might be in the market for a new solution,” according to the post. “We’ve got news for you: today, you can get a 60 percent discount on a 12-month Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, or Business Premium subscription, along with the help you need to make the move.”

CRN has reached out to both Google and Microsoft for comment.

Zac Paulson, CEO of TrueIT, a Fargo, N.D.-based Microsoft partner and member of CRN’s 2021 MSP 500, said the move “makes a ton of sense” to try to get customers to try out the Microsoft productivity suite.
“It’s a great deal for former free G Suite users,” Paulson told CRN in an interview. “The small business wins by getting a Microsoft solution, assistance in migration and ultimately pays approximately the same price.”

Allen Falcon, CEO of Westborough, Mass.-based Google and Microsoft partner Cumulus Global – a member of CRN’s 2021 Pioneer 250 – told CRN in an interview that although the offer is a competitive response to Google moving customers to Workspace subscriptions, “there are very few remaining G Suite legacy free edition customers, and most were held to a maximum of 10 licenses.”

“While this is a strong, competitive offer, I am not sure if it will have a significant impact on the Google customer base or Google partners,” Falcon said. “Our legacy free G Suite customers moved to paid editions long ago in order to increase license counts or access new features not added to those versions.”

Google announced in January the end of its G Suite legacy free edition that dates to 2006. It prevented new users from signing up for it in December 2012.

The free offering no longer will be available starting July 1, and current users must upgrade to a paid subscription for the newer Google Workspace by May 1 to maintain their accounts and services, according to the cloud provider.

Formerly Google Apps, G Suite was rebranded as Google Workspace with an expanded set of cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools in October 2020. Google Workspace includes Gmail and Google Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Sites.

The G Suite legacy free edition had a reduced set of business features.

Google Workspace plans start at $6 per user per month, according to Google. Microsoft 365 Business Basic starts at $5 a user per month, according to Microsoft.

Workspace has more than 3 billion active monthly users across consumer, enterprise and education, according to Google.

In January, Microsoft said its Office Consumer subscriber count reached 56.4 million, but did not break out the number of Office 365 Commercial subscribers.

In July, research firm Gartner published a study showing that Microsoft still dominated the productivity software market in 2020 with 89 percent market share, according to ComputerWorld. Google grew its share by 2 percent that year, reaching 10.3 percent share. The productivity software market grew 18 percent during 2020.

Last year, user authentication company Okta published a report calling Microsoft 365 the most popular application in North America by number of customers. Google Workplace placed fifth, following Salesforce, Amazon Web Services and Zoom.

The shot at Google comes as Microsoft partners continue to make the switch to the tech vendor’s “New Commerce Experience” platform and subscription model, a transition that has some partners so furious, they’ve talked about switching to Google or adding it as a vendor partner.

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