The title of the conflict is changing from BPOS v Google Apps to Office 365 v Google Apps but it is certainly not diminishing in its ferocity. The argument remains pretty much the same but with Google Apps now perhaps looking as though it may need a facelift to remain of as much interest as its Microsoft counterpart. The only real development of the Google Apps product is the reduction in the number of free users in its ‘free’ offering (beware – nothing is without a cost of some sort) and some android apps such as Google Docs.

Microsoft would argue that the two are barely comparable which is definitely unfair. Its also a big claim considering they have been spending so much time comparing their offering to Google Apps in order to point out why its better. There have been several studies carried out by Microsoft which explain in great laborious detail the difference between their product and Google Apps – some of which have been so long and involved that I suspect even some of the most enthusiastic followers of cloud IT would of given up before the end.

One of the latest of these explains why Microsoft believes the $50 per user per year is an unfair claim due to the additional work involved in basically all areas of making Google Apps work for business. In some parts they have very strong points – others perhaps not so strong. I’m not sure for instance the much mentioned requirement of User Training for Google Apps is fair.

This is basically based on the fact that Microsoft dominates the business market and that moving to another provider would create the requirement for user training. If your business doesn’t use Exchange and SharePoint then the requirement may well be the same – although I think the two are quite comparable in that they are both easy enough to use.

There is a point though where they make a very good point and that is in the area of support. There is basically no support for Google Apps and so this needs to be paid for through a partner – the cost of which on a monthly basis has to be more than the Google Apps subscription. Partners cannot be expected to be on the phone and online fixing problems for £2.75 per month – unless they don’t want to stay in business very long. Microsoft offer administrator support as part of the package which can help to keep costs down and assist with the speedy resolution of problems.

Integration issues with outlook can also be costly, confusing and time consuming. There are also many issues around third party application integration. There are several features in BPOS/Office 365 which are standard and which are 3rd party products in Google Apps such as Active Directory sync and single sign on functionality. They also point out some further issues with Google infamous terms and conditions – outages of up to 10 minutes are not covered by the 99.9% SLA and there is no financial rebate for such outages, simply credit rebates.

The whitepaper is called ‘Look before you leap’ and is quite a good read as it is accessible. We must always bare strongly in mind though the fact that this is a very bias source – as are most I read each day. Companies have different priorities and requirements so that’s what we aim to give them – honest advice, after all it makes no difference to us which product you choose!