Big win for Google Apps spells trouble for Microsoft

If Microsoft needed any more reasons to figure out a way to make Office available inexpensively via the Web, it just got a big one: Washington D.C. has chosen Google Apps instead of Microsoft Office for a big new intranet for city employees. And where Washington goes, enterprises may well follow.

By choosing Google Apps as the basis for its intranet, instead of Microsoft Office and other Microsoft software, Washington D.C. has saved some serious money. Instead of spending $4 million, the city will spend $475,000 a year in licensing fees, says the IDG News Service.

The portal uses Gmail and Google Apps for word processing and spreadsheets. Washington chose it not just as a way to save money, but because "new applications and interfaces can be assembled quickly on Google's platform because of its open nature," in the words of the IDG News service.

"When we looked at integration and deployment costs, what we decided to do [was use Google because] it was at a lower cost and was a faster way of achieving the same goal," the IDG News Service quotes CTO Vivek Kundrsaid as saying.

Here's one example of being able to create content easily. The city had a job fair, and wanted to create a site associated with it. According to the IDG News Service

On (the site) Kundra has his managers outlining in YouTube videos the positions for which they're hiring, an example of how easy it is on Google Apps to allow for "voice, video and data integration," he said.

Microsoft had better take note. It owns the productivity suite market right now, but it's getting attacked not just from Google Apps, but by the free OpenOffice 3 suite as well.

There's no doubt that Microsoft has the capability to build a Web-based version of Office, and it's taken baby steps towards doing so. But baby steps aren't enough. More governments and enterprises will follow the lead of Washington if Microsoft doesn't do more.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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