In a Register interview, Google’s Enterprise boss David Girouard challenges Microsoft’s blended web + desktop view of cloud computing and says that, after four years, Google Apps is mature enough to match up to MS Office.

Refreshingly, he admits their support still isn’t up to scratch. Whether a computer science-driven company can learn customer service is the only real question over the technically excellent Apps products.

Microsoft has never bothered with end-user support, relying on resellers (like us) – which makes sense with software installed on customers’ computers, as the installation is often the problem.

Apple, selling consumer hardware, had to build a network of support staff in its stores as well as telephone support centres – and has succeeded far beyond any other customer products company in these. This is particularly creditable when you remember that Apple was a fairly small technical company learning how to do retail and customer services.

But “100% web-based” Google has no stores and the resellers (us again), not having access to the servers and software, are unable to do any deep troubleshooting. To succeed in Enterprise, Google has to reach the same standards of service support as Apple or the early days of Orange.