Microsoft fires new shot at Google Docs over support

Google defends Web apps support as war of words continues

Microsoft Corp. took another shot at Google Inc. today as it touted the support it provides for Office 2010.

In a blog post Monday, Barbara Gordon, who heads Microsoft's customer service and support operation, argued that her company's offerings beat Google's hands down.

"The launch of Office 2010 earlier this month reminded me just how much this makes us different," Gordon said. "When was the last time you called Google for help recovering a lost Google Doc? Were you even able to find a number? My guess is, no. Google simply does not provide that level of service."

Gordon went on to boast of Microsoft's various support avenues, including user-to-user support via online forums, support by phone and e-mail, and deployment technologies for enterprises.

Google offers a range of support for its paying Google Apps customers, including e-mail support, emergency phone support, online forums and setup guides. According to the Google Apps site, the company responds to e-mail support inquiries on most issues within one business day.

Consumers and businesses using the for-free Google Docs can browse online help documents or leave a message on the online applications' Web forums.

Google declined to respond to Microsoft's allegations with a countering statement, but a company spokesman noted that there are resellers who provide higher levels of support, including end-user support, for Google Apps. With the price of that suite running $50 per user per year, businesses can purchase outside support from a reseller and still end up paying less than Microsoft charges for each Office license.

The Google spokesman also returned Gordon's shot about lost Google files, saying that Google backs up all documents, even those saved using the free Google Docs, at multiple data centers. The argument that files can become lost, he added, was "amusing" because it's only an issue on client-side software such as Office, where documents are saved locally.

The two tech giants have been butting heads for months. In May, Matthew Glotzbach, Google's enterprise product management director, kicked off the public battle by urging companies to forget about upgrading to Office 2010 and calling on them to instead add Google Docs to their mix. "Google Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better," Glotzbach said then.

Microsoft responded a day later, saying that Google Docs' integration with Office was inferior to that of the online Office Web Apps that rolled out earlier this month.

Google and Microsoft have also tussled over reports that the former is ditching Windows on its workers' PCs because of security concerns, a claim that several experts characterized as disengenuous at best and bogus at worst.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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