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Doug's Mailbag: Dell's Online Market, Google's Exchange Killer

On Monday, we asked whether you'd buy downloadable software from Dell's online store, which recently started selling Microsoft Office apps. Charlie's open to the idea, but with a few caveats:

Would I buy from Dell? Maybe, but only if there is a substantial price difference. I don't know how they will do on support, and I expect that if they sell the software, they will be expected to support it.

A couple of readers don't think Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook will be the "Exchange killer" Google hopes it will be:

I like the sound of it and the idea of taking pressures off me, but I don't see how corporations would ever move to a system like that, especially corporations like law firms and financial institutes. How do you restore an e-mail that a user deleted a month ago? How do you make attorneys or bank CEOs feel like their e-mails are in a secure place that aren't going to be easily accessed? I know law firms that put their e-mails into case management solutions and move it out of Exchange to keep Exchange lighter and have e-mails associated with a case easily found.

I could only see small firms and companies starting up using this as a real solution.

One very big case against using Google as an Exchange mail server is e-discovery. How much will Google charge a firm to do a full legal search for all pertinent e-mails relating to a lawsuit? Will they, in fact, even allow that type of archiving and/or retrieval? Webmail or cloud e-mail systems are great for personal use but I have yet to see one that can perform the massive amounts of archiving, document management and legal discovery necessary to cover a company's hind end. Not to mention the information assurance aspects of authentication, certification and verification needed for the legal aspects of business correspondence.

If anything, Google's e-mail system will be much like a lot of their products -- just enough to get them in the door of a small business, so to speak, but never enough to fulfill any real corporate requirement.

I have to disagree with you on Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook having any potential in the enterprise market. Large companies need a way to control every aspect of their e-mail system and Exchange allows admins to do so. The only effect Google Apps Sync will have is on the very small businesses that don't want POP3 e mail or don't have experienced enough IT staff to run Exchange.

I don't know anyone that uses Andriod or Chrome for anything other than playing with it for fun. Google can try to take apps away from Microsoft and Microsoft can try to win the so-called browser wars but neither is going to happen.

But one reader thinks it will be a vast improvement over Exchange:

Replacing Exchange with Google -- been there, done that. We have already used Google Apps and free Google accounts to replace Exchange and another IMAP based e-mail environment that ran on Windows. The cost differential is even greater than what Google claims if a combination of paid and free accounts are used. Our cost savings was 90 percent while reliability improved five times. Google's big challenge is customer and service partner management of the services. Management and monitoring of Google Apps is very poor right now, so if users run amok, it's hard to detect and help.

However, for all the e-mail user categories where Exchange has been rotten for years -- for workers who travel, work at customer locations, collaborate internationally, work in small or branch offices, or work at home -- Google Apps is a breakthrough improvement. Microsoft needs to replace Exchange with a far more advanced and user-friendly cloud-based system to remain competitive.

And finally, this reader doesn't have an opinion either way -- just an idea for a pithier name:

Let's call it "GASMO."

More reader letters coming on Friday! Share your own thoughts in the meantime by commenting below or sending an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/17/2009 at 1:16 PM


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