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Google ups the ante in the battle for cloud productivity

This town ain't big enough for us: Google offers customers on competing platforms the chance to test drive Google Apps free of charge

Google has declared war on Microsoft’s productivity suite by offering Google Apps free of charge for the length of any existing enterprise agreement.

The search giant is giving customers the chance to test drive Google Apps to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it, by writing off the costs until their current contract expires. On top of this, Google has said that it will offer up to $25 per user towards the migration and deployment costs if one its channel partners.

“There’s a new way of working, and we think that once you see Docs and the rest of Google Apps for Work in action, you’ll never want to go back. We want to help you experience it now, even if you’re locked into an existing EA,” Rich Rao, head of global sales for Google Apps for Work, said in a blog post

The offer is currently only available in the United States, but a Google spokesperson confirmed that the firm was working on international expansion.

Once the golden child of cloud-based collaboration tools, Google Apps has been sucker punched by the meteoric rise of Office 365. A recent Bitglass study confirmed that, despite being late to the party, Office 365 has emerged as the enterprise’s preferred productivity suite. According to the research, Office 365 is now being used by around 25% of companies, with 22.8% using Google Apps.

Despite matching Microsoft’s features nearly blow for blow, Google has struggled to convince enterprises of its merits. Office 365 ties neatly into most organisations’ existing infrastructure. Given that majority have been using Exchange for many years, Microsoft’s suite offers a degree of familiarity and so requires a smaller leap of faith.

Google believes that in can win the war on cost and has a much simpler pricing structure in place.

“Our estimates suggest that businesses with basic EAs and no dependencies can potentially unlock savings of up to 70% by switching to Google Apps for Work,” Rao said.

However, pricing is very much an apples and oranges comparison. On the face of it, Google vanilla offering is cheaper; however, depending on the needs of the business, Microsoft’s bundles plans can offer better value for money.

Google is nothing if not an innovator and it finally seems to be channelling some additional creativity into its Apps suite. The company recently introduced a range of new features such as Voice capability, allowing users to dictate to their productivity application, and Explore in Sheets, which automatically creates graphical representations of data,

“Nine years ago with Google Docs, we saw an opportunity to build something that would enable people to work together in new ways,” Rao said. “Fast forward to today and Docs is a productivity powerhouse. Now’s a great time to give it a fresh look if you want to take advantage of its unmatched collaboration tools. We’ve made it easy by covering most of the features some claim to be missing and adding nifty new stuff like Voice Typing and Explore. All in all, we think you'll find it’s the perfect tool for work. “

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