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Google offers free cloud apps to encourage Office 365 users to ditch Microsoft

Google ups ante in ongoing war to dethrone Microsoft as the enterprise's preferred provider of cloud-based productivity tools

Google says enterprises that want to switch to Google Apps can use it for free while they wait for their contract with their existing productivity suite provider to expire.

The search giant confirmed in a blog post that it will cover the cost of using Google Apps for Microsoft Office 365, IBM Lotus or Zoho users that want to switch over, but cannot afford to until their current enterprise agreement runs out.

The firm is also offering to contribute an unspecified sum towards the cost of deploying the software-as-a-service (SaaS) productivity suite.

“Once your current enterprise agreement (EA) is up, we offer a simple contract with no traps or gotchas. It’s also cheaper for a lot of businesses,” said Rich Rao, head of global sales at Google Apps for Work.

“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,” the post continued.

In a follow-up statement to Computer Weekly, the company said the promotion is only being offered to US customers at the moment, but the firm is planning to roll it out worldwide in due course.

The initiative is sure to be viewed as a sign that Google is upping the ante in its ongoing bid to win a larger share of the enterprise market, where its main rival is Microsoft and its Office 365 suite.

According to a recent Bitglass study, Office 365 has emerged as the business community’s preferred productivity suite. It is currently used by around 25% of companies, while 22.8% use Google’s offerings.

A separate piece of customer research by Okta, released around the same time as the Bitglass report in August 2015, also declared Office 365 as the most commonly deployed cloud-based application in the world.

Its report, compiled from the cloud usage data of 2,500 of its enterprise customers, stated: “Since bringing on Satya Nadella as CEO, Microsoft has made encouraging steps to embrace the cloud, encouraging customers to move their email to Microsoft’s cloud with Office 365.

“We’ve seen the positive results of that push in our data, as Office 365 has steadily gained popularity and surpassed Google Apps as the most popular email application.

“That’s generally the case across our network, with a few exceptions. Google continues to be the email application of choice for small businesses and companies in certain regions, mostly Asia-Pacific,” the report added. 

Read more about Office 365 vs Google Apps

Read more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

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Given Microsoft's track record over the years I can see some people looking for other alternatives. Cost, support and security are always a concern. Cheaper does not always mean better or even worse, it's just trying to leverage you in their direction. Still a lot of offices have a comfort factor with Microsoft products and do not want to have to invest money or time in training it's users to use a new way to conduct business.
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