Google Has Tough Road Ahead Vs. Microsoft

We can get as giddy as we want about Google taking on Microsoft in the applications market, but we've got a long way to go to get there, according to a new slide show on Baseline magazine's Web site.

Forrester claims Microsoft owns 95 to 98 percent of the market, while Google is struggling to crack into big business. A recent Burton Group report suggested Google's Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) might not be ready to be seriously courted as an enterprise platform.

Google, of course, would disagree. Moreover, I know of at least one major company that is about to fully embrace Google Apps as their productivity and collaboration platform of choice.

What it may boil down to is a choice of cost and whether or not businesses want to move to hosted software over packaged applications that users can download.

According to Forrester Research, Google Apps will run under $1 million for 15,000 users but more than $5 million for the same number of users of Microsoft Office Standard Edition when licensing costs and maintenance fees are factored in.

But CIOs also need to ask themselves: Do I want to let Google host software that I use? Do I want to give the company who covets data that much control? These factors need to be carefully weighed before coming to a decision.

Moreover, will customers be that sick of Microsoft that they would rip and replace Office with Apps for thousands of PCs? That's an overwhelming task, too.

Finally, no one beats Microsoft in the software game. Ask WordPerfect, Lotus, Novell and Netscape.

This game is far from over. Financially, Google continues to grow at a scary rate -- 73 percent last year to Microsoft's 15 percent.

It will be fun watching this game progress over the next 5 to 10 years.