Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Who Will Win This Battle of Cloud?

On the eve of it’s launch, Google has attacked Microsoft Office 365 – their blog post claims that Google’s Apps office suite is ‘for teams’ where as Microsoft’s new cloud-based Office 365 is more expensive and ‘for individuals. But what’s it actually like to use Office 365, and is it really going to metamorphose your experience when compared to the desktop version of Office? Read on… to find out.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 — which is being launched today — is Microsoft’s latest attempt to push enterprise holdouts onto a new online version of its Office software. But if you pay attention, the basic Office 365 package is a mere upgrade to the 2010 versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Online and Live Meeting. Interestingly, the last two have now been merged as one and are known as Lync. Office 365 gets interesting when we look at the additional Office Software Online options that it brings out of the box.

And this is going to be interesting because recently Google declared war with Microsoft with launch of Chrome OS Laptops; and now as it appears – Microsoft has decided to respond back!

What is Google Apps?

features several Web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, including: Gmail, Google Groups, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites. With Google Apps you can work with multiple people in the same document. There’s no need toworry 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.

Office 365 Pricing:

The software will cost small businesses $6 a user each month for a package with programs like Office Web Apps and Exchange e-mail software, Microsoft said. For an additional $12 a month, companies can add a full version of Office, including Word and Excel programs.

Google Apps Pricing:

Google charges companies $5 a user each month or $50 a user each year, and offers a free version for consumers. Google Apps has 30 million active users overall, and doesn’t reveal how many of those are paying customers.

Office 365 Advantages:

Office 365 offers hosted versions of a family of server products launched by Microsoft last year: Exchange Online 2010, Lync Online 2010, and SharePoint Online 2010. Plus, you get Office Web Apps, a version of MS Office that runs in the browser.

Google Apps Advantages:

On the other hand, Google delivers its mix of Gmail for Business, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Groups, Google Sites, and other applications entirely online. Born in the Internet age, Google argues its services were built for Internet-connected teamwork and collaboration–a generational advantage over Microsoft offerings born in the PC era.

Google also touts ease of use, lower cost, and frequent feature updates (delivered online, of course) as key advantages. But the company’s services stop short of the breadth of capabilities–particularly the communications capabilities–included in Office 365.

Usually, when it comes to selling new versions of Office, Microsoft’s toughest competitor used to be IBM or Google. But this time they are trying to challenge Google in their own battle field and it will be really interesting to watch how matters unfold. In a nutshell, Office 365 could be little costly than Google Apps but it could be a lot of net new business, and stable recurring revenue, if Microsoft can pull it off.

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