Sheth: Outlook Integration Is Going Well Despite Snafu

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-06-24 Print this article Print

There are definitely small issues with particular plug-ins, but what we focused on with this first version was, How do we make sure the mail, contact and calendar experience is up to snuff with what people are used to with Outlook? I think it has been a significant increase in functionality from what people were used to before. I think what you'll find with Google is we will release something early and continue to iterate and continue to make that integration better over time, such that it fills the cracks that exist right now. Right now, it's been a significant advancement for us and removed a lot of blockers in customer deals.

So the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook plug-in will still break Windows Desktop Search?

It's still an issue for that tool right now. Outlook search works as [it] is built in right now, and there are particular plug-ins that don't right now and we're working on fixing those. The main functionality, which is how users read and manage their mail using Outlook, how they do full calendaring, look people up in global address books and how they maintain their own contacts-the tool covers those core mail, calendar and contacts experience very well.

Is this the biggest challenge in trying to bridge the gap between the cloud-based architecture Google Apps is written on and Microsoft's Windows, which was created for on-premises scenarios?

The biggest thing is that we're integrating into an environment that people have extended over time. There are things that you can attack off the bat and things that you'll have to incrementally get to over time. We ask a lot of our customers about this, asking them what would make them switch to Google Apps with Outlook on top of it. It keeps coming back to mail, calendar and contacts. If we can nail that in terms of how people use that in their workflow, that will be enough to get people over the blocker.

I was surprised to read Microsoft's Outlook team admitting that it was working with Google on this fix. I don't get it. It boggles my mind that Microsoft would work with Google on a product aimed at taking customers from the Outlook user base. How does that work?

It's definitely in both of our interests to make this work. There are a lot of users out there that like Outlook, and we want to be able to embrace that rather than reject it. One of the things we're seeing in one of the corporations we're deploying into is that a majority of users, once they start using Gmail, love it. They love the Web-based interface.

But there are a set of users that have been using Outlook for 10, 15 years and they don't want to change. That vocal minority can sink the deployment for everybody. So it's in our best interests to make all of the users happy. And for Microsoft, it's in their best interest to cater to the needs of what the customer wants to do with their tools.


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