There have been rumours about an office suite from Google for some time now and last Thursday Google announced Google Apps Premier Edition for its business customers. Google Apps Premier Edition builds on Google Apps for Your Domain and includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs & Spreadsheet, Page Creator, Google Talk, Google’s Start Page and more, all customised for your domain. Basically you will access these services on your domain so your email address will, for example, be email@example.com rather that firstname.lastname@example.org. While these applications are already available through Google Apps for Your Domain, you can see from this comparison chart that the Enterprise edition has a few extras that justify the $50 per user per year charge.
It is a little misleading to draw comparisons between Google Apps for Your Domain and something like Microsoft Office. Although Google Apps for Your Domain includes Google Docs & Spreadsheets, the word processor and spreadsheet applications really don’t have the same features as Microsoft Word and Excel. In fact, there are a host of office applications that have far more advanced functionality than Google’s offering. Google’s office application suite is also incomplete. As yet there is no presentation application. On the other hand, if your needs don’t require the full functionality of Microsoft Office, OpenOffice or even iWork, then this could be a great solution for you:
- you are no longer bound to your office or even any one computer because everything is web-based;
- the cost is far less than the cost of Microsoft Office (although quite a bit higher than OpenOffice); and
- your connections to your Gmail based data is pretty secure, as is the rest of your data.
Of course there are a few downsides. For one thing, you have no offline access to your content. Secondly, keeping confidential information stored on Google’s servers does spark certain privacy issues.
Although there are some large corporations running smaller trials with this platform, I see this as being most beneficial for smaller businesses who may wish to run their email and calendaring through Google Apps for Your Domain and perhaps use Google Docs & Spreadsheets