Microsoft has always been dismissive about Google Apps, but yesterday's FUD blast raised the bar.
Responding to Capgemini's pledge to sell Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) as part of its desktop services package, Microsoft released a top 10 list of questions aimed at shredding Google's credibility as a provider of enterprise software. Microsoft Watch's Joe Wilcox lists them here. Check out this one:
"Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a "known only to Google" schedule – this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners – what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?"
A fair question, and it partly echoes a recent Burton Group report, which questioned the seat-of-the-pants release schedule Google is known for. Can Google set a deadline and meet it? Will it change its when-it's-ready model to fixed delivery schedules businesses can count on?
But it's funny that a company notorious for missing product deadlines criticized another vendor for not setting any. I don't know what's worse: not promising a release date and keeping people yearning, or failing to ship on time.
Oh yes, I do. Where business is concerned, failing to delivering on a promise is just as bad as not making a promise at all.
Microsoft also scoffed at Google's careful positioning of GAPE as a collaboration complement to Microsoft Office, noting that "if GAPE is indeed a complement to MSFT Office, the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain. Doesn't this result in increased complexity and increased costs?"
There really isn't a satisfactory answer for that one. At a time when cost and complexity are generally IT issues No. 1 and No. 2, how do you pry into the 95 percent of the market using Office with anything less than a crowbar? Lacking a big enough crowbar, you have to sneak in under the radar. Good luck, because clearly Microsoft has Google in its sights.
What it does is leave Google having to say it will eventually replace Office, and while I have no doubt that this is as much Google's internal aspiration as search dominance is its external goal, wishing it and doing it are two different things. As we all know, many have tried and many have failed to topple Microsoft in its entrenched markets.
To that end, Microsoft added that seeing as how Google's strength is in search, will it abandon GAPE if it fails to gain traction? A very fair question and one I've wondered about. Climbing the Microsoft Office mountain is nothing short of a Sisyphean task.
Microsoft went on to pick on what GAPE doesn't have, including document creation features like support for headers, footers, tables of content, footnotes, etc. These, I believe, will come in time so I wouldn't fret too much if I'm considering a switch to the $50 per user, per year SaaS model.
But Microsoft also pointed out there is no "easy to use, automated way for enterprises to regularly delete data, issue a legal hold for specific docs or bring copies into the corp."
Also, how do users pinpoint exact docs to find? That's record management folks, and it's a biggie for legal discovery and compliance purposes. Another challenge for Google to tackle as it eyes more market share.
Microsoft also cracked the whip on Google's lack of 24-7 technical support. It's true, big business should have always-on tech support and Google may get there for its hosted apps. But right now, it's a deficit for Google GAPE.
There were some other, more picayune challenges, but you get the gist. Google has a way to go to grapple with Microsoft in the office productivity and collaboration market. That said, the game isn't over yet and the Capgemini contract is a nice boost.