Google Apps Break on Through

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Google Makes Its Move: Office 2.0

I personally love me some disembodied web apps and Google is set to deliver us all from the horror of the thick client. Their service, Google Apps for Your Domain, will include Gmail, Talk, Calendar, and Page Creator under your own personal domain, allowing you to offload most major PIM tasks and maybe one basic webdev task to Google’s own overburdened – yet surprisingly chipper – servers.

Best of all? Google offers support for all of these applications and they’ll soon be offering Writely and Spreadsheet along with the package. The package comes branded under your own domain (which means your sysadmin will have to do something like forward “gmail.yourdomian.com” to GMail) and is targeted at small- to mid-sized companies with a relatively small IT budget. Before I chime in, here’s a word from Microsoft:

“The Google solution is what I’d call patchwork, or Frankenstein, software,” says Tom Rizzo, a director for Office SharePoint Server at Microsoft. “You have to put it all together yourself.”

Ahem. That said, I’d like to point out that if Office Sharepoint Ninja Server 2007 Vista doesn’t start getting a real, viable online component, Office is going to be in a bit of trouble. The concept behind browser-based apps has always been sound – a browser is everywhere, it’s eminently usable and can be fairly intuitive, and offloading the admin work and installation headaches to a third party is always fun and cheap. Now, however, we’ve got to deal with the negatives.

First, offline editing probably isn’t much fun with Google Apps until they create an on-disk, synced cache like .Mac. Then there’s the clear “baby’s first spreadsheet”-ness of most of these apps, at present, except for calendar and mail. Calendar and mail apps are best when they are simple. Spreadsheets and editors are best when their power appears in a just-in-time manner, offering all sorts of stuff you never thought you’d use with just one click.

I’m pulling for Google Apps simply because I know this is the way we’re going. However, if this stuff needs to get much better and not much worse if they’re going to grab users en masse.

Google Makes Its Move: Office 2.0 [TechCrunch]
In Depth: Google Discloses Plans For Long-Awaited Office Suite, First Components Due This Week [InformationWeek]
Google Office ‘version 1.0′ debuts [ZDNet]
Product Page [Google]

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