Microsoft vs. Google Office Showdown?

Microsoft-vs.-Google enthusiasts, take heart: It's looking like 2007 will see the two foes up the stakes in their search battle by squaring off over the desktop.

As you all well know, Microsoft is shopping Office 2007 and a host of new and upgraded collaboration products. Not to be outdone, search giant Google is amassing technologies and revving services to mount its own potentially formidable entrance into the marketplace. Microsoft's clearly got the installed-base edge and entrenched market lead. But Google's got buzz and thus far has outpaced Microsoft Live initiatives in the rapidly growing model for software as a service.

With Google's Gmail having gained notable adoption as an e-mail service, the company is now pushing office apps such as word processing, spreadsheets, document management, and sharing and collaboration. Google's Docs & Spreadsheets, sporting technology from the acquisition of Web 2.0 startup Writely last year, enables users to collaborate around shared documents, view and edit online in real time with others. And the service wisely provides the capability to import traditional document types from Excel or OpenOffice and other sources into the mix -- thus tying the online world to the legacy desktop apps found in most corporations.

Meantime, Google has in beta trial its Google Apps for Your Domain service that competes squarely against Microsoft's Office Live service. Google Apps for Your Domain, like Office Live, is a set of services that gets small business users up and running with a domain name and Web site for their company, corporate e-mail addresses, calendaring, online storage and other tools needed to establish a business presence on the Web. In beta since August, the service has already signed up "tens of thousands" of domains, according to Google executives who spoke with Redmond magazine last week.

To see more of my Google interview with Jonathan Rochelle, product manager of Docs & Spreadsheets, and Rajen Sheth, product manager of Google Apps for Your Domain, please pick up the February issue of Redmond Magazine, or read the story online near the end of this month. In the meantime, I'd like to hear what you think about Microsoft vs. Google on the desktop: Who's got game? Let me know at capril@redmondmag.com.

On another note: I'm looking to hear from those of you who have tried to figure out or dabbled in Microsoft's nascent -- some might say weak -- attempts to stake some ground in the open source world. The company has CodePlex, its community development project Web site, and has released certain pieces of code as open source so that it's ISV partners and IT professionals can modify away to their hearts' content. But is this simply lip service, or is Microsoft genuinely in the spirit?

What do you think of Microsoft's open source strategy, such as it is? Write to me at capril@redmondmag.com.

Carolyn's Mailbag: To CRM or Not?
Last week, I asked readers if they're considering using any version of Microsoft CRM. Here's one take:

We are, for a small-business environment, sort of. As an IT consultant, but also partial retail business owner, we've been looking at MS POS (snicker) and how it relates in the back end, to CRM, if at all. After all, it's all under the "dynamics" banner, is it not?

It's one area where it seems like pulling teeth to get more info out of MS on the topic. Have you guys ever thought about doing an in-depth review of the different platforms, limitations, best-fit models, etc.? Sort of help out the marketing department? I'd personally love to get more info on the whole range for small to medium business CRM and POS stuff. The MS tools can do a lot, and I'd love to be an expert. Thoughts? And then the obvious: How do you use Dynamics/CRM/POS to drive a live sales Web site?
-Andrew

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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