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Mixed results as Google enters Microsoft’s turf

Michael O’Brien, vice-president for information technology at Journal Communications, would prefer not to have the employees of the Milwaukee media company use Microsoft’s Office software any more.

business Updated: Nov 21, 2011 22:41 IST

Michael O’Brien, vice-president for information technology at Journal Communications, would prefer not to have the employees of the Milwaukee media company use Microsoft’s Office software any more.

He has installed Google Apps for businesses, which provides word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail and calendar software, for 400 people and said he planned to “convert” 900 more.

Because Google Apps performs many of the same functions as Office, but through a Web browser instead of local software, it is cheaper to own and operate than Microsoft’s desktop software, he said. An additional 1,400 people will be giving up their Microsoft e-mail, documents and spreadsheets for Google in December.
What’s happening at Journal Communications is one small win for Google and its cloud computing challenge to Microsoft. But more than four and a half years after Google Apps for business made its debut, the question remains how much of a dent Google is making in Microsoft’s business.

Microsoft said Google’s efforts are hardly noticeable. But Google executives said that more and bigger companies are signing up for the cloud service.

David Girouard, who runs Google’s Apps business said 5,000 businesses a day signed up with Google Apps, few big companies have done so, most likely because some people do not entirely trust a cloud-based service, they like Microsoft or do not want to force employees to learn a new system. So Google does the next best thing and is focusing primarily on smaller businesses.