Google started a new chapter in its cloud collaboration software fisticuffs with Microsoft May 26, releasing software that helps knowledge workers move their Microsoft Outlook information to Google Apps.
Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook lets Outlook workers shuttle their e-mail, calendar and contact data from Outlook profiles, PST files and Exchange accounts to Google Apps.
The kicker is that office workers can migrate thousands of e-mails, contacts and calendar data in just three clicks without any assistance from their IT administrator. This will prove useful to small business users that don't have or require large IT staffs to help them manage their data.
The tool is a complement to the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange application Google released in March to help admins conduct large-scale migrations from Outlook. eWEEK detailed that process in this slideshow here.
"We're making it a lot easier for many end-users to move their old data themselves if their administrators aren't planning server-side data migrations," explained Google Apps Product Manager Abhishek Bapna.
Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook works with Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007, on-premise and hosted Exchange, and legacy PST files saved on users' machines. The tool is available free to customers who already pay for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition, which costs $50 per user, per year.
The offering is just the latest blow between Google and Microsoft in the competitive market for cloud computing collaboration software, which include IBM, Cisco Systems and several smaller players.
The tool also comes after eWEEK reported that Serena Software had dumped Google Apps for Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard (BPOS) suite.
Microsoft returned the favor and rubbed salt in Google's wounds by featuring this May 18 blog post from Serena's Director of IT Ron Brister.
Brister, who originally decided to move the company's 700 employees to Google Apps, said Exchange is unchallenged in its calendaring and contact management abilities. He also took a veiled shot at Google Apps:
"There are alternatives on the market that promise lower costs, but in our experience, this is a fallacy," Brister wrote. "When looking at alternatives, CIOs should really evaluate the total cost of ownership as well as the impact on user productivity and satisfaction, as there can be hidden costs and higher TCO.
"For instance, slow performance and/or lack of enterprise-class features (e.g., with calendaring and contact management) will torpedo the value of such a backbone system, and may get the CIO fired."
Google declined to comment on this loss. Even so, addition of the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook app a week later shows it's not going to let Microsoft poach customers, especially those Google poached from it, without a fight.