eWeek's Microsoft's Google Apps FUD Rebuttal

9/17/2007 1:05:50 PM

eWeek published an entertaining list of responses to some of the points (FUD, to each his own) Microsoft made last week around shortcomings with Google Apps.  Frankly, I haven't been watching that back-and-forth action much since I haven't come across many users of Google Apps among my customers or contacts.  But the eWeek thing annoyed me on a few levels.  Sure, Microsoft is going to throw FUD out about any competitors product.  Google certainly does the same to Microsoft.  What eWeek should be doing, IMHO, is trying to look at the facts of the situation instead of publishing a little "interactive media puff piece" that just continues the game of he-said/she-said.

So let's take a look at some of eWeek's rebuttals.  I'll caveat this by saying that I don't know many of the details around Google Apps (support, contracts,etc.) or Microsoft offerings either.  Then again, you would think that eWeek might have provided some of those facts as part of their article?? Hmmmmmm...

Enterprise Ready? While eWeek to some degree makes a good point that there may not be a "right answer", the fact remains that it is an important question for many customers.  There have been countless occasions when Microsoft released applications during its early attempts to gain a foothold in the enterprise beyond the desktop that was often met with the analysts saying, "it not enterprise ready.  No one is using it in the enterprise."  About the only way you can prove you are enterprise ready is to be used by enterprises, and that definition varies from customer to customer.  So it is a very important question that just may not have a great answer from Google.
Aligned with Needs? While there is a nugget of truth to this, I think the Microsoft position is not being clearly articulated.  Yes, we do have long beta cycles.  However, we do not go out and drive customers to use them as their only option.  I know Google Apps is a new product, but there is a marked difference in running your business on Google Apps beta and doing a proof of concept with Windows Server 2008.  In those WS2008 scenarios, customers are advised to not use those products in production. Yes, we have some that do and we put them up as case studies.  But those are cases where Microsoft has set up support relationships, consulting, etc. to help the customer through the challenges of using a beta product. Its more a partnership than anything. 

This is a broad brush on both sides which is why I said there is a nugget of truth on both sides of the point.  I just think the eWeek response went a bit overboard on trying to make the Microsoft position as one of "the pot calling the kettle black".
Cost of Doing Business? Well, GAPE does cost money, so if it is indeed positioned as a compliment to Office, then by definition it costs more.  Managing, training, and integrating two of anything is certainly more expensive than having just one of something.  The assumption on the Microsoft side seems to be (based on the eWeek article - again I haven't read the actual Microsoft doc) is that you will still have/need Office.  If that's correct, then saying it will cost more to have two systems, with or without hard numbers, doesn't seem like that great a leap of logic.
Will Google Last? This wasn't a statement about Google going out of business?  Did a five year old have a tantrum or something while writing this?  The point was the Google Apps is not a traditional "core line of business" and if it does not turn a profit at some point, then it very well could be shut off.  That's the risk of going with a new product in a new market.  Google has shut down things before.  Is it a bit of fear mongering on Microsoft's part?  Yeah, a bit.  But it is still a legitimate point if you are thinking about moving critical business functions and data over to a new environment.  A lot of folks will say it is an acceptable risk, but at least they considered it.
Who is the User? I think the key point of this discussion is the "always online" part of the point Microsoft was making. The others, I agree, are of less concern to many users.  But the online requirement can impact a large number of scenarios.  Lots of small business seem to have trouble with their online access on occasion, though not as often as a few years ago.  The "always connected" part is important to consider, IMHO.
Collaboration Conundrum? Ok, I can't really dispute the point eWeek makes.  For large enterprises, Office does offer compelling collaboration features when combined with Sharepoint, but that is still a smaller percentage of companies out there.  But it does seem to be growing...
Hosted Apps Hosed? Sure that claim can apply to Microsoft's hosted services, but this is a discussion about Google Apps vs. the Office alternative.  In that case, I think Microsoft raises a pretty good point.
Always On? Larger companies can get support for Microsoft that supports their business needs.  So this is a bit of right and wrong depending on where you are coming from.
Feature Parity? No argument here.  eWeek makes a good point.
Losing Control? I think eWeek totally misses the boat on this one.  Regardless of how well or poorly you think Microsoft does in incorporating customer feedback into its products, at the end of the day, the customer has a version of software and a known set of features to work with.  Does Google Apps have an online versioning story?  If not, then everyone truly is at the mercy of Google's upgrade cycle.  With Office, if you don't like/need Office 2007, you just keep on running an older version, as has been pointed out as a good strategy by numerous articles in the trade rags.  Sure, you can deploy that new version of GAPE instantly because its in the cloud, but if they drop feature XYZ from one release to the next, you are SOL.  It's an important point and one I think is completely lost on the author.

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