Too Bad: Microsoft 365 loses out to Google Apps
Its been a hectic month.
I've had a couple of articles published - the Citrix acquisition of Ringcube prompted "Does VDI need User Virtualization, or does User Virtualization need VDI?" and just before attending a Virtual Computer user council I considered If Citrix is on a buying spree – should its next purchase be Virtual Computer?
A number of the bits of August that weren't filled enjoying the coast of Wales involved coming to the conclusion that Gilwood CS's migration to Office 365 was just too much effort. Yes the Exchange component worked relatively well: yes the sign up process was straightforward. But,
- Microsoft wanted to own all my DNS settings - If you sign up for Office 365 all your DNS services need to be managed. You might not find that a probelm - but given I've got a slew of services from different service providers it was an unnecessarily convoluted step.
- Accessing from Android devices wasn't a fun experience
- The lower cost option lacked SSL - for sharepoint and web apps access
- The URL branding is all about Microsoft - and I thought it was about where *I* wanted to go today.
- I don't want Sharepoint and Lync - its a common trait of Microsoft to bundle lots of things together to present "value"; but if you've working solutions in situ, its of little value to have to change them.
- The "feature" of Office 365 to have full product installs - is incompatible with VDI/DaaS offerings. This may well catch some folks out: luckily as you're paying monthly its not going to be a long term hit.
Google Apps on the other hand was a much friendlier and dynamic experience. A simple pricing structure, ease of configuring users, full suite of on-line apps and intergration with not only my Android devices but Microsoft Outlook 2010 (luddite that I am) made it a more compelling choice. I've come across some snags mind. Google can be a trifle authoritarian when it comes to sending .zip files - although I came across a good article that explained a simple workaround.
I've heard it said that in the Google vs Microsoft core business productivity space, MS can 'win' battle by attracting more users than Google, if it convinces many existing customers to adopt Office 365. However, Microsoft's solution has a number of different moving pieces rather than an integrated whole - and importantly, the pricing structure is more complex than for Google Apps for Business.
My experience was that if you want to get started quickly with a cloud package Google's option just feels friendlier - if you're a small business there is even an ad-supported free version.
Ultimately, Microsoft's package is probably going to be the default choice for many companies seeking a more formal, polished face on communications. But Google Apps for Business feels the natural selection for companies that do most of their work on-line or between devices.
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