Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Businesses Google Microsoft The Internet

Outlook Inertia the Main Factor Holding Business From Google Apps 394

Posted by Soulskill
from the safety-blanket dept.
Meshach writes "There's an interesting article in PC World claiming that the major factor preventing businesses from transferring their communication interface from Outlook to Google Apps is employees' unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar. Basically, Google is underestimating how attached businesses and their workers are to Office and Outlook in particular. Quoting: 'Google has found out that, yes, many companies are happy to ditch Exchange for Gmail if it means saving money and eliminating the grief of maintaining Exchange in-house. However, and maybe to a degree unexpected by Google, it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides, thanks to the deep links that exist between this client-server tandem.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Outlook Inertia the Main Factor Holding Business From Google Apps

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not a great summary .... the article mentions the synchronization tool, so outlook can be the front end. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/outlook_sync.html

    Doesn't this make it a non-issue ?

    • by jo42 (227475) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:46AM (#28667265) Homepage

      The real issue, from a real business point of view, is that you would have to be totally fsckin' stupid to store your confidential company communication and data on Google's servers -- and in a foreign country if you are not in the US.

      • by GIL_Dude (850471) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:12AM (#28667409) Homepage
        You've certainly nailed one of the biggest issues. The ability to control your data, have a deletion policy that is then subpoena-free (including backup destruction), etc. is certainly a deal breaker for most larger companies.

        There are other issues too though:
        Availability / uptime (and yes, I know a poorly run Exchange infrastructure can have a lot of downtime, but a well run one - ours - has certainly outperformed the availability of Google over the last two years)
        Integration with other MS applications such as SharePoint and Access
        Another aspect of the "data control" is user control - some companies don't want their folks logging on to mail from just any old virus-infected, malware laden machine and want them to only connect via known good machines on the corporate network. Gmail makes that control impossible.

        There are many others, but that's the flavor. I know that some small companies and even some medium ones will think the above concerns are silly and misplaced, but that's the type of argument you are going to get from the big hitters.
        • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:36AM (#28667565) Homepage Journal

          First off, I just want to say that the paranoia issue is moot. Google provides the same sort of assurances that any other outsourced IT organization provides. It's a matter of seeing successful businesses doing this for years that will convince everyone that Google isn't just that ad company they're so familiar with.

          You've certainly nailed one of the biggest issues. The ability to control your data, have a deletion policy that is then subpoena-free (including backup destruction), etc. is certainly a deal breaker for most larger companies.

          Not optional for any public company in the US, so a non-issue.

          There are other issues too though:
          Availability / uptime (and yes, I know a poorly run Exchange infrastructure can have a lot of downtime, but a well run one - ours - has certainly outperformed the availability of Google over the last two years)

          Sure, you might expose yourself to increased downtime (though it's probably worth noting that you're referring to apps during its beta period). That's a valid down-side. Of course, you get global replication and disaster recovery for free, so you have to think in terms of not having to implement those VERY costly options which aren't optional for most corporations. If downtime were massive, then it still doesn't matter, but Google has had a few bad days during beta, which is vastly superior to my last company and about the same as my current one.

          Integration with other MS applications such as SharePoint and Access

          Sharepoint (and whatever MS's IM system is, which does quite a lot more than IM, and integrates deeply with SharePoint) is really what this article was getting at. I fully agree that this is a limitation of Google Apps, and while I think it's surmountable for most companies, those that are already serious MS shops will have significant end-user pain moving to something else. Google Docs + Google Talk (both branded and isolated to your company's domain through Apps) make up for some of the functionality, but certainly not all.

          Another aspect of the "data control" is user control - some companies don't want their folks logging on to mail from just any old virus-infected, malware laden machine and want them to only connect via known good machines on the corporate network. Gmail makes that control impossible.

          That's true ONLY of Google's default Gmail, not the Gmail that's part of Apps. If I recall correctly, you can limit access to your domain by IP. There's a lot of services for the upper-end that I'm not as familiar with because my domain is the freebie service, but I vaguely recall seeing this as a feature (along with S-Ox compliance and various other for-extra-pay features).

          There are many others, but that's the flavor. I know that some small companies and even some medium ones will think the above concerns are silly and misplaced, but that's the type of argument you are going to get from the big hitters.

          Of course, the real question is: are these significant enough issues that the big boys aren't going to have to deal with competing against leaner organizations that grow up from those smaller companies today. I honestly think that outsourced infrastructure is going to be the way almost all large companies go over the next 20 years. This is why I got out of sysadmin, in part.

          • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:19PM (#28669033) Homepage

            You've certainly nailed one of the biggest issues. The ability to control your data, have a deletion policy that is then subpoena-free (including backup destruction), etc. is certainly a deal breaker for most larger companies.

            Not optional for any public company in the US, so a non-issue.

            Uh, I don't follow you. For a large company good control of deletions is mandatory, but how that makes this a non-issue escapes me. Does gmail provide for guaranteed deletion?

            Pretty much every large company is de-facto required to rigorously delete materials that aren't required by law to be kept. The penalty for not doing so is to be buried alive in discovery whenever you are sued (which probably happens about once a week for a big company).

            If a law says that the accounting records used to create a quarterly statement needs to be kept for three years, then you want to keep it for three years (with no meaningful chance of loss), and then make every remote trace of them disappear completely one day later (or as close to this as possible).

            This has nothing to do with covering up wrongful behavior. The fact is that you can comply with the letter of the law today, and then be second-guessed about some decision you made with perfect hindsight 10 years from now. So, unless the law states that those records must be preserved for 10 years, then you don't want those records.

            As an analogy from the sysadmin world - consider system access logs at an ISP (something here most people would intuitively understand). If you are an ISP you want to keep your logs long enough to handle billing disputes or to be able to identify abuses, but you don't want a 10 year record of everything every one of your customers have ever done online. Then, when some man files a subpoena to find out when a relationship between his soon-to-be-ex-wife and her boyfriend started you can just say that your records only go back 30 days so that you don't have anything, instead of having to go digging through the vaults to find backup tapes, and then show up in court to testify about how those records were maintained (a cost you are not really reimbursed for except maybe a token fee).

            Sure, it would be fairly cheap for a big company to save every email ever sent between two people who worked there. However, then whenever somebody gets injured by the company's products there will be some email somewhere between two people joking (or debating) about the product's safety and that will be the "smoking gun" that proves the company covered up the dangers. In every place I've worked the fact is that anytime a decision is made there is somebody who doesn't think it is a good idea - and these people are always praised as prophets when things go wrong. However, if you wait to have unanimous consensus whenever you make a decision nothing would ever get done. A jury has the luxury of not needing to make a profit, and usually fails to find the right risk balance.

        • by McFadden (809368) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:50AM (#28667683)
          There are a lot more issues than just getting used to a new set of tools.

          I recently set up a new small startup company. We have 4 staff, but 3 of us work a lot from home, coming into the office only once or twice a week. As an experiment I set us all up on Google Apps Premium. The email is great - no complaints. Gmail has always been my webmail of choice, and with POP/IMAP support my 2 Mac guys can use mail.app to their hearts content.

          Calendar is so-so. Sharing calendars, particularly more than one seems a bit erratic, but it's just about good enough for us to use (we really need shared calendars do the the business we operate).

          Docs is the main weakness. The office suite just doesn't have the feature set of any of the offline suites. Offline support is lacking. It frustrates me that Google make a huge thing of this being a set of "collaboration" tools and yet leave out (or don't implement) a really simple and obvious feature like folder-level sharing. If you want to share a folder containing sub-folders with other people in your group, you have to meticulously go through the directory structure and share all the bloody files in each sub-folder individually. Why the hell can't I just share the top folder and have it apply sharing to the rest of the tree?
          What worries me more, is that when you go into the requested features forum, you can see that people have been asking for this for a long time now and it's not happened. Which makes me think that Google simply aren't putting a lot of resource into developing it. I don't like entrusting the future of my business into something that they might just drop like a stone if they feel like it. And without more feedback from the devs, and noticeable improvements over time, it certainly feels like they could.

          The docs file manager tool itself seems completely brain-damaged at times. You can drag a file from one folder to another, and it disappears. The folder displays (2 items) but only 1 is visible. Where the fuck did it go, and why should I have to kill my browser window and re-launch to see it? I could go on, but I think a couple of examples are enough to suggest that there are what I would suggest are basic areas of functionality that simply aren't ready for prime-time yet.

          Eventually we gave up and went back to an offline office suite. Google Apps is a nice idea, and I'm sure that when it's anywhere near fully functional it'll be a very handy for us. But right now it's not even close.

          I apologize for the rather disorganized rant. If I'd had more time I'd have written a more organized critique, but given that I was on my way to bed, I banged out this comment in a quick 5 minute brain splurge.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by anagama (611277)
            I'm using Darwin Calendar Server in my office: http://trac.calendarserver.org/ [calendarserver.org] You can install it on a linux box and it's even in the Lenny and recent Ubuntu repositories if you don't want to deal with dependency hell. The only real "gotcha" is that you _must_ enable extended attributes in fstab -- without that, you'll pull your hair out wondering why it doesn't work. Sunbird will sync with it, although Sunbird always downloads all the data when it starts, so if your calendar is large (2-3 items per day
      • Most people are that stupid or, at least, sufficiently ignorant that they don't realise that it's stupid. Even if they run an in-house mail server, for example, a lot of companies use MSN messenger to discuss business matters. Most companies aren't technology companies, and don't have enough IT-related experience to realise why this is a problem.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          Most small businesses would have trouble generating a page worth of sensitive information; the relationships they have with customers (not just the contact info) are the important part of the business (perhaps along with being reliable).

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Vs running on running your confidential company communication on MS?
        The only way a real business will change is to read its mail in a newspaper or have it dumped on the net.
        Until this generation gets Enigma 'ed or Crypto AG'ed they will blindly trust MS and Google.
        Who would trust Google with its US gov seed money and NSA backrooms on every US (and friends) ISP pipe Google is connected via?
        Who would trust MS with decades of closed source bugs?
        By default *anyone* interested can get in as you turn on a M
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Macfox (50100)

        GA isn't for everyone, but it does fit well for small business, educational institutions and community organisations that seek flexible access to data, any time, any place or are under budget constraints.

        There's a heap of US universities using the education edition of Google Apps. Some of them with massive deployments of >50,000 users.

        The thing to keep in mind is that GA is very flexible and it's a trade off between cost, flexibility and security. You can choose which parts you want (email, calendaring,

  • by LibertineR (591918) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#28667161)
    I know, I know, the prevailing opinion is that SharePoint sucks, but in my experience, companies that grab hold of SharePoint integration with Exchange and MS Office, would rather give up their children than that combo.

    Where is the competition for that ENTIRE feature set, for a comparative amount of money?

    Its full Lock-In, and I have no idea how Google competes with that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:42AM (#28667241)
      Does Google Apps let you host the data yourselves? The only time we want our confidential information off-site is in the form of encrypted backups.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:49AM (#28667675)

        Ya that's part of the rub with using Google things for a business. They hold all your data. What's more, Google is the ultimate data mining company. They have tools like no one else for looking through vast amounts of data to find what they want. As such, they could, if they wished, very easily dig in to our data for company secrets. Now, they say they won't, but all you have is their word on that. While that's fine for a home user, I don't see that as fine if I run a business, especially a public company. It'd be a great way to get yourself in trouble with your shareholders.

        So while I use Gmail myself, I wouldn't want to use Gmail for business, especially a tech business. Hopefully, Google would leave all my mail alone and respect my privacy. Probably they would. However, what if they don't? What if they find plans we have for bringing an amazing new product to market, and they then beat us to the punch?

        So I think there's more than just inertia at play here. With business information, you have to start to take things like secrecy seriously. That generally means hosting your own stuff or, if you must use a 3rd party, make sure they are a disinterested 3rd party. By that I mean if you take a big data centre, who's only business is holding servers, they aren't that interested in what is on there, nor do they really have the capability to look. Their market is, well, holding servers. However Google, their market is tech toys of all kinds, and they keep expanding in to new areas. Thus they might well be interested in what you are doing.

        • If you sign up for and pay for a service, then Google are obliged to continue providing that service for the term of the contract providing you keep up your end of the bargain (ie paying for it)...
          They are also obliged to abide by any other terms in the contract, so as a business you would be foolish to not demand clauses that forbid Google from mining your data or doing anything else with it not directly related to providing the service.. You should also demand the ability to download all of your data at any time you wish in a standard format so that you can keep your own backup and/or have the data available to you for migrating to another service.

          Companies trust their critical data and resources to other companies all the time... There are companies who specialize in storing or destroying massive quantities of hard copy documents for instance, not to mention courier or security companies.

          This is actually a better situation than using MS apps, which come with no warranty and often provide no method or guarantee to get the data out in a standard format.

          Obviously the best plan is to have the data on your own hardware, in formats which you have full documentation for, and using software which you have an unlimited irrevocable right to use for any purpose, but neither MS nor Google offer this right now.

      • Google isn't evil so this doesn't matter. They said so themsleves.
    • by westlake (615356) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:36AM (#28667567)

      Where is the competition for that ENTIRE feature set, for a comparative amount of money?

      This is where the geek gets it wrong.

      He sees the MS Office suite or perhaps Exchange.

      What he doesn't see is that Microsoft - and Microsoft's partners - can deliver a turn key solution for a business of any size.

      Microsoft has had close on to 35 years experience and - quite literally - tens of billions of dollars to spend on the study of office work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JAlexoi (1085785)
        Microsoft has at most 20 years of experience in that field. Before the 90-ies they were basically a second grade DOS and developer tool vendor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ciggieposeur (715798)

      that SharePoint sucks,

      My company runs Sharepoint. As far as I can tell, it is a document store with version control, a business user's version of source code control minus defect/feature tracking. But I've also been told that we really don't use Sharepoint correctly, that it's got a lot of nice features and such.

      Could someone explain briefly what Sharepoint really does?

      • by blincoln (592401) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @01:30PM (#28668297) Homepage Journal

        As far as I can tell, it is a document store with version control, a business user's version of source code control minus defect/feature tracking.
        [snip]
        Could someone explain briefly what Sharepoint really does?

        It does a *lot* of things, all under the umbrella of web-based collaboration. Some examples:
        - The document store (with optional versioning control) that you mentioned. This also includes the ability to add additional metadata to the files. For some special document types, you get a special type of library, like a picture gallery for images.
        - Lists - sort of like a web version of how business users tend to use Excel, although almost everything in SharePoint is a list at some level, including the document libraries.
        - A very powerful search engine that can index all of the content in SharePoint as well as other locations (file shares, Exchange public folders, other web sites). It has tons of Google-esque features like the ability to do "site:slashdot.org"-type syntax but e.g. instead of specifying a particular site, you can specify a particular metadata field to limit the search to. You can also heavily customize the back-end with lists of noise words, synonyms (e.g. specifying that if someone searches for "IBM", documents that contain "International Business Machines" should also be included), etc.
        - The whole thing is sort of a MySpace/Facebook for corporations. IE your users can throw together web content without actually knowing HTML, and can e.g. create simple applications vaguely similar to how Excel can.
        - From 2007 on, there are a number of specialized library types like discussion boards, blogs, and wikis. Note that the wiki support in particular is *very* limited compared to something like MediaWiki.
        - If you buy Enterprise SharePoint CALs for your users, you can make use of some incredibly powerful features like the Business Data Catalogue, which is an interface to SQL/ODBC/OLEDB data, and makes database content available as lists within SharePoint. So if you have e.g. an HR database sitting in Oracle, you can bring it (or at least the non-private data) into SharePoint for your users to use as a canonical version of that information (IE anything they use it for is automatically updated when the database is). Combine this with the Excel Services backend (which lets users set up Excel formulas and macros for online instead of local processing), and they can now make very powerful business web apps.

        It's a very, very complicated system and at least today it has a lot of limitations and bugs, but there's also a lot of interesting potential there. I'm not a huge fan of using it myself, but every actual business user I've worked with has loved it to the point that if we replaced all of our fileservers with SharePoint servers, I think they'd be overjoyed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pamar (538061)

          Note: I work for a large System Integrator company in my country and I have recently left a project which delivered a corporate intranet built on Sharepoint. The intranet has 3000 users, just so that you get a picture of what kind of systems I work on.

          It does a *lot* of things, all under the umbrella of web-based collaboration. Some examples:
          - The document store (with optional versioning control) that you mentioned. This also includes the ability to add additional metadata to the files. For some special document types, you get a special type of library, like a picture gallery for images.

          Yet it is not a "proper" CMS. It fails spectacularly to provide a out-of-the-box solution for documents made of small sets of disparate files (ex.: a financial statement as .doc plus a pdf version and accompanying excel; in order to treat this set as a single

  • by chiph (523845) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:32AM (#28667169)

    They'll change in a heartbeat -- anything .. Anything! to get away from Notes.

    Chip H.

    • by LibertineR (591918) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:36AM (#28667197)
      Nope. Notes users are like abused women. They really believe that this time, everything will be okay, if they can only FORGIVE....
    • by hibiki_r (649814)

      Notes is heaven compared to the 'powers' of Groupwise.

  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:33AM (#28667175) Homepage
    Windows inertia keeping people from using a proper operating system.
    • I wouldn't say that it's Windows inertia it's more that- ... wait ... what's an "operating system"? You mean there's computers that say something other than "Windows" when they're booted?
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#28667781)

      So what is a "proper" OS? What does Windows do wrong, that your "proper" OS does right? Provides a standard, enriched experience where more than just a kernel is standardized? Makes the OS easy to use without a command line? Has a working audio layer? Oh wait... those are all good things.

      What is it that Windows doesn't do, that keeps it from being "proper"? I'd really like to know since it seems that, well, Windows does pretty much everything. You want to do office productivity stuff? Yep, Windows is good at that. Need a web server? Sure it'll do that. Wanna play games? That's fine too. Doing some media production? No problem.

      I get a little tired of this attitude that Windows is such a bad OS and if only people would "see the light" things would be better. Oh really? Then why is it that I can do everything I want with Windows with very little difficulty, which is quite a varied set of things, but when I try to do it on Linux I discover some easy, some very hard, some impossible? From a user standpoint, Windows works well.

      The argument of it not being a "proper" OS to me sounds like generally snobbery, the same sort you get from people who think that only their very limited taste in movies are "proper" movies or only their very limited taste in beer is "proper" beer. No, not really. If Linux works well for you that is wonderful, by all means use it, but don't try and push it as the One True Way(tm) unless you've got something more than condescension to back it up with.

      To most people, a computer is a tool. They aren't in it for a philosophical or semantic debate, they want it to do whatever various functions they need, and do it with a minimum of fuss on their part.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by skeeto (1138903)

        Windows really is a poorly designed OS, and as such I view it as an expensive toy. To name some things from the perspective from a fairly fresh install:

        It intentionally hides lots of information from the user for the sake of hand-holding. The execution permission on the filesystem is stored in the filename (ie ".exe"). The shell sucks. The filesystem has all kinds of stupid, arbitrary limitations (like no ?, <, >, ", *, :, | characters allowed). Case insensitive filenames. No package manager (at all!)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by okmijnuhb (575581)
          How about no built-in handling for zip or iso files? And then when the OS asks if you would like it to search the net for handlers, it comes up empty!
          I love when I open an attachment in outlook, and when i close the email, it asks if I would like to save the file's changes. Whether or not i say yes or no, it gives me the same ridiculous dialog without saving any changes.
          I love being nagged by my OS every 5 minutes to reboot after an update. I love being pestered and annoyed by my "real" OS, while I am tr
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          The execution permission on the filesystem is stored in the filename (ie ".exe").

          False.

          The shell sucks.

          How so ?

          The filesystem has all kinds of stupid, arbitrary limitations (like no ?, , ", *, :, | characters allowed).

          These are limitations within the shell, not the filesystem.

          Case insensitive filenames.

          This is most definitely a feature, not a problem.

          No package manager (at all!).

          That's because it doesn't have the dependency hell that requires such a thing in Linux.

          Still use archaic "drives"

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by skeeto (1138903)

            In several of your responses you cite that "typical users" don't need it, which only reinforces my comment about Windows being a toy operating system. Typical users use their computers as a browser/e-mail appliance, and maybe some word processing or games. It's a toy. To be clear, I am not saying there is something wrong with that, and it doesn't make typical users "stupid" or anything.

            But for serious computing, like research, simulation, large data processing, etc., a unix-like system is going to be incred

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phroggy (441)

        I suspect a lot of people who complain that Windows isn't a real operating system haven't really used it that much in the past eight years or so, so they're simply unaware that it isn't the steaming pile of crap that Win98 used to be. After all, people defended Win98 back then, the same way they're defending XP now, so how would an outsider know that it's actually completely different?

      • Being "standardized" is both a good and a bad thing... One size does not fit all, and a monoculture is no good for anyone... The ability to select the best tool for the job rather than having to use a "standard" is a good thing. Data should be standardized, but how you interact with it should be a matter of choice... Roads are standard, tv signals are standard, but people drive all kinds of different vehicles and use different types of tv.
        But to answer your question:

        Windows makes a terrible server platform, you can't strip it down to the bare minimum, you can't install and manage it from a serial console... and don't mention the "cli only mode" in windows 2008, their idea of cli only is to load the entire gui layer and then put a cmd.exe window in the middle of it... what was the point in loading the gui layer with all it's overhead just to display a cli? a windowed cli will never work over a serial console either...

        On a desktop system the interface is extremely clunky, and is very much geared towards doing things their way or nothing... Their way doesn't suit me, the default ways of most linux distros don't suit me either but linux is much easier to customize.

        Linux is easy to use without a command line, modern distros will let you do everything most users will ever want without a command line... And yet, many seasoned users actively choose to use the command line on linux.. Why? because in many cases it's easier, much easier for an experienced user, and much easier to explain when trying to help an unskilled user. Windows users, even experienced ones rarely use the command line mostly because the windows cli is pretty bad, but one counter example is when someone doing phone support wants an ip address from a windows user they're supporting, they almost always have them open a command prompt and type "ipconfig"... Why? because that's easier than finding the IP through the gui (which i assume can be done somehow).
        Because of this people get the impression linux is only usable from the cli, when in reality the cli is often the best but not the only way to do many things...

        And when it comes to advanced things, a cli where you can cut+paste is much easier than regedit...

        Another issue is package management, windows simply doesn't have one, on linux i can just open my package manager, search for what i want and hit install, and what i want is installed including any dependencies it has, or i can do it from the cli. Windows requires you to manually find what you want through google, trust that the download site you find is reputable (when was the last time a windows user downloaded a file from a random download site and then compared the checksums with a set published by an official site?), and then wait for the download to finish before you can manually execute and follow through with the installer. That is just a HUGE pain in the ass.

        Multiple workspaces - i cant live without multiple workspaces, and all the windows implementations i've seen have sucked, mostly because no apps or even the basic window manager are designed with workspaces in mind. And yes, aside from workspaces i can't stand the way the windows window manager works, i find it clunky and inflexible.

        Foreign filesystems - linux comes with support for all kinds of filesystems out of the box, windows just doesn't, and what third party filesystem drivers do exist are often poorly implemented, buggy or both... I have to read disks from macs, bsd and linux boxes all the time and occasionally misc other systems, windows just doesn't cut it, they arrogantly only support their own filesystems.

        Source - I want the ability to modify the source code of the programs i use, to do things the authors never intended... I also want to be able to use new and exciting hardware, many years ago i used alpha, more recently i was using 64bit amd64 very early on and these days i would be looking at low power arm based systems, microsoft have always been playing catch up and the closed source nature of most windows apps make

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:35AM (#28667191)

    Google is trying to explode onto the scene with products and services that compete head to head with some very deeply ingrained technologies. Sometimes, like with the ChromeOS, it's like they are trying to compete against themselves.

    What they will find is that earning a good reputation through customer satisfaction is the way to win over customers. Trying to bowl them over with competing products is almost never effective.

    Google Search didn't kill Yahoo! search in one fell swoop.
    Gmail didn't become dominant (and it still isn't) against Hotmail/Live Mail right away.
    Google Maps was able to leverage the Google Search engine, but still has stiff competition from Yahoo! Maps and MapQuest.

    But lately, they've been producing new products at an astonishing rate. Taking the shotgun approach of seeing which spaghetti sticks to the wall, Google doesn't seem to have a larger view of what they want to do with their technical talent. This is going to be their downfall in the long run as the advertisement-based profit stream slowly dries up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But lately, they've been producing new products at an astonishing rate. Taking the shotgun approach of seeing which spaghetti sticks to the wall,

      Is it really just lately? It is also possible that a lot of these products have been in the pipeline for some time and we see them as they mature to the point of public testing. We may have seen things like GMail and Google maps sooner because they were early starts compared to what is coming out now. It takes time to start and mature a product to even a publ

    • by Lennie (16154) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:01AM (#28667357) Homepage

      I think this is, because a lot of their services are offered free and they are looking for more profitable businessmodels. Advertisments is their only really profit machine at this point.

    • Wow.

      I cannot believe that you loaded that metaphorical shotgun with spaghetti and fired it at the wall.

      Now clean up your metaphorical mess and don't do that again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by darkmeridian (119044)

      Google is attempting to position itself as the data kingpins of the next-generation. Right now, the average consumer is concerned about their privacy. They don't want to host their data on outside servers, etc. But kids nowadays have no such compunctions about posting their entire personal life onto Facebook or Myspace. You have teenagers who have spent their entire lives in the Internet age. They'll grow up with that attitude, then put all their business work onto third-party servers. Google wants to be th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435)

      Google Maps was able to leverage the Google Search engine, but still has stiff competition from Yahoo! Maps and MapQuest.

      Google Map's main competition when it was launched was ESRI's ArcIMS/WMS servers (Internet Mapping Service/Web Mapping Service) as well as other IMS/WMS based on non ESRI products but most were based on ESRI products. Yahoo and MapQuest as well as MS's Virtual Earth offerings were responding to Google.

      Where google differed is that it offered pre-prepared imagery to the public either

  • by that IT girl (864406) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:36AM (#28667195) Journal
    I believe this is the argument that keeps so many people on Windows and IE, too. This article is informative in that it brings up another example I hadn't thought of before, but when it comes down to it, people just resist change.
    I guess the bottom line is, if you are coming out with a new product, you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.
    • .... but only upon being faced with a demonstrable improvement. Case in point: I have yet to encounter anyone resisting a move away from Vista after sitting through a Windows 7 demo. I expect Vista marketshare to be around 1 percent by the end of 2010.
      • I'm inclined to say Vista is an exception, since it was precluded by something better and hasn't been around long enough for people to get set in their ways with it. However, I do get your point. I'm looking forward to Win7 myself. I skipped the whole Vista debacle, though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Henry V .009 (518000)
        I've had Windows 7 on my desktop for a while (currently RTC). I really don't notice too many differences between it and Vista except for some superficial UI changes. On the other hand, Vista was more or less a fine operating system. It's not Vista that was shit, it was the IT media that was shit (but everyone already knew that).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          No, Vista was shit when it came out. There were several serious bugs, one involving file copying, performance issues, incredible amounts of driver issues (graphics drivers especially), and the whole 'vista ready' mess.

          I'll grant that the situation is much improved now.

          Whether or not IT media is shit, the initial reports on Vista were extremely positive, from the betas to shortly after the release. I presume Microsoft paid for a good many of those, but the point is more that the bad press started after Vista

    • by capnkr (1153623) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:04AM (#28667369)

      {snip}...you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.

      And that bit there pretty much explains the whole Windows hegemony... Within the last 24 hours, on another non-tech forum, there's a guy who's been getting griefed by a WinXP install. After others suggested Linux, he responded with the (all-too common) "...But I can't run my business-related Win apps on it". Of course, and only after I pointed out to him that he could easily do so via virtualization, he comes clean with the real reason - that it is by his choice he continues to use Windows, which in his own words he refers to as 'the devil he knows'. He has been having these issues for over 2 months now, attempting to get this box running - and this from a guy who coded DB apps for Win98. People are very resistant to change. Most of 'em, it seems, they'd rather suffer. :/

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I guess the bottom line is, if you are coming out with a new product, you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.

      Not to mention:
      2. First contact with reality, your customers will think other missing features are important.
      3. Get a revenue stream going, don't squeeze for profit just realize money = developers.

      It's like many other not-so-great standards, just by getting enough money and momentum behind it you can fix it later. Just run with it and eventually you'll get to where everyone links to youtube because everyone links to youtube. The same really goes for software, you want what's popular because that's what is e

  • by magisterx (865326) <TimothyAWiseman.gmail@com> on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:36AM (#28667199)

    it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides

    Isn't that the same as saying that companies like the functionality and are willing to pay for it?

    I could certainly understand the point if it had said that they are not willing to lose the current interface or not willing to lose the training time already put in, but saying they are not willing to lose the functionality is the same as saying it is good software, they are willing to pay for it, and they are not willing to switch until someone can come up with something actually better.

    • by sphealey (2855) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:49AM (#28667287)

      >> it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to
      >> lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides

      > Isn't that the same as saying that companies like the functionality
      > and are willing to pay for it?

      I think it is a more general unwillingness to accept that the client-server model works pretty darn well for many business-intensive apps, and that fat clients often are better suited to business use than browser-based apps. If pure mobility is the goal than the browser-based systems are a necessity, but I have seen too many unfortunate office workers clicking away at browser windows for tasks that could have been handled in seconds by a directly-connected interface.

      sPh

  • by chrylis (262281) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:40AM (#28667213)

    The most exasperating irony of this situation (and its siblings of getting people to switch off of MS Office and Windows) is that each new version of Windows (and, recently Office) is a drastically new product anyway. Businesses say they don't want to retrain employees (and schools say that they have to train for MS products)--and then when XP or Vista or Win7 rolls around, they retrain anyway but still claim that familiarity with the interface is the reason they won't consider alternatives.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:18AM (#28667437)

      All this droning on about training but I've never seen a company offer any training on anything other than custom applications that are specific to the organisation. Windows and Office training may have happened years ago when computers were new but today...

  • by localroger (258128) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:43AM (#28667247) Homepage
    If the next version of Outlook is as different as the last issue of Word was from everything that went before, the advantage of familiarity will disappear.
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:54AM (#28667315)

      If the next version of Outlook is as different as the last issue of Word was from everything that went before, the advantage of familiarity will disappear.

      I think it's a little different with Outlook - the tasks are much simpler (read and respond to email, manage a calender) for most users - many of who probably on use one or two task bar items (New, Reply, print) or tabs (Day, week, Month) so the switch wont entail learning a lot of new menus. So even if you change the overall interface as long as the on-screen view is relatively familiar people won't care.

      Word, otoh, is much more of a user intensive experience; requiring the use of more commands, even if some are used infrequently. As a result, interface changes have a much greater impact.

  • Secrecy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Necroman (61604) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:47AM (#28667271)

    I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email. There is so much critical information about a company in their email, why would they trust it to any external company, even if it is Google. Also, I'm unfamiliar with how Google handles data retention of email. Outlook allows some backup of emails at the IT level of all company emails (included deleted ones).

    I know I wouldn't want to have my company give up control of it's email to Google (5000 person company).

    • Thousands of companies leave their mail on other companies servers when they use Hosted Exchange. The issues usually boils down to whether or not a company wants to admin their own Exchange servers in-house.

      Personally, I dont get this, because while Exchange used to be a nightmare, it is far from that now. In fact, its pretty simple if things are done right from the beginning, and servers are properly maintained.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Personally, I dont get this, because while Exchange used to be a nightmare, it is far from that now. In fact, its pretty simple if things are done right from the beginning, and servers are properly maintained.

        You would be amazed how many alleged sysadmins couldn't admin their way out of a paper bag. You would be sad at the number of businesses that take the approach "it's not our staff that's the problem, Exchange is such a horror to manage that you need someone who can dedicate their entire life to it".

        Perhaps it's because admitting it's your staff that are the problem means admitting that you made a bad hiring decision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dissy (172727)

      I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email. There is so much critical information about a company in their email, why would they trust it to any external company, even if it is Google. Also, I'm unfamiliar with how Google handles data retention of email. Outlook allows some backup of emails at the IT level of all company emails (included deleted ones).

      The article is clearly talking about comparing things to Exchange server.
      If you won't trust your email with another company, they won't be running Exchange since Microsoft (read: another company) makes that software.

      There is no more trust from Google than currently with Microsoft for using a Google App Appliance.

      You are saying businesses won't trust putting their email on a Google app server in the companies server farm, because that is somehow different from putting their email on an exchange server in the

    • One of my friends just tried deploying Google Apps to their entire company, switching everyone off of Outlook for email. 95% of the people were perfectly ok with it (at least after a bit of "coaching" so they didn't fear the changes). The problem was with the remaining 5%, who tended to be corporate "big wigs" and top producing sales staff. They took issue with things most of us would consider so minor, it was ridiculous -- yet were difficult to impossible to change.

      EG. One guy had a hard time with the

  • by RyanHam (1596459) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @10:54AM (#28667313)
    Google appear to be actually focusing on emails replacement and to me it looks very promising: Wave combines email, instant messaging and collaboration. You can run it on googles servers or on your own. Its very promising. Google Wave http://wave.google.com/ [google.com] Common irritations with email, - replying to one person, reply to the group, making sure everyones included - trying to coordinate on one document via email and contant back forth emails
  • There are lots of problems with exchange/outlook but the fact is, the feature set is pretty complete. Microsoft did a lot of boring work [jwz.org] to make lots of things happen, like the ability to invite people to meetings, collect responses, send updates when they get changed, deal with timezones, etc etc etc. People who rely on it (and there are literally millions) would really have their work impacted by not having all those features.

  • I've got 10 years of emails in .pst files. I use that as my personal knowledge base. Copernic desktop search is used for indexing those emails, it kicks all the other search tools in the balls. X1, MS desktop search, Google desktop, they are all not quite there yet.
    The Outlook calendar function is also vital but can be migrated to something else much more easily. Not so the emails. Until I have something with which I can migrate my emails into a more sensible format than pst files and have a kick-ass sear

    • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @12:06PM (#28667817) Homepage

      You get 25GB of storage with the corporate GMail account... I'm at the rather high level of email by volume (PPTs, Visio, random people sending me pointless Mega-Zips) but 2.5GB a year doesn't sound too high.

      The reason you have, and I had, all of those PST files is that one PST file can't be over 2GB and the search engines seem to prefer multiple small files anyway. Switching it all into a 25GB GMail account stops that problem and stops the "oh look time to create a new PST file".

      For those of us who actually search back through time in emails its a mega boon, especially as you don't get the occasional "Oh sorry, we've just realised that your PST file is trashed for no apparent reason.... and we trashed it about 2 years ago but this is the first time you've accessed it since then so all the backups are also trash."

      25GB of Email storage, its a wonderful thing.

  • Last year I helped a 20 person company transition from Exchange to Google Apps. Technically everything went fine, but once the transition was done, everyone refused to use the Google's web interface even though some of them used gmail for personal use! We wound up using IMAP through Outlook to bring everyone back to where they had been before.

    I was sitting down with one woman who just flat out refused to do anything different. I was in the middle of setting up Outlook for her, and we had the following
  • I mean, they couldn't possibly choose Outlook over Google Apps because they might prefer it or because Outlook may be more effective for their needs. Instead of blaming the users for your failure perhaps Google would be better off looking inwards.

  • I'm sure my company is no different from many others: despite having had Exchange/Outlook server running for close to 10 years, most people are &^%$* clueless as to its use. We even mandated that all conference rooms be reserved thru Outlook Calendar, but (especially upper management) people just plain don't do so. And I've tried to suggest that people learn to put their personal schedule (vacation, trips, etc) and their personal calendar, AND that managers learn to *look* at their staffs' calendars

  • I've never used Google Apps, but I've used Gmail and it doesn't hold a candle to Outlook in terms of features. The ability to search all mail quickly is a great feature, but that's just one feature compared to dozens if not hundreds of features that Outlook has that Gmail lacks.

    There is no free mail client that comes anywhere close to the configurability of Outlook. I use Outlook at work and Thunderbird at home and I'm constantly frustrated by the unconfigurable straitjacket of Thunderbird. I suppose the cl

  • Do Google apps plug into our existing AD infrastructure? Can I book a conference room and phone bridge with it? What about voting?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Macfox (50100)

      Yes, the premier edition does have this ability to leverage an external directory. Many of the edu users make good use of this feature. Resource calendars are also supported in the premier edition.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:33AM (#28667543)

    ... employees unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar.

    Perhaps it's due to employees unwillingness to give up a tool that works so well. And which gets better with every new release.

  • by Hamfist (311248) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:39AM (#28667585)

    We migrated to in-house Zimbra from a simple sendmail server (500 accounts), which has worked exceptionally well. We had quite a bit of pushback from die-hard Outlook people. We adopted a policy that all new hires would get Zimbra and a business case would have to be presented to get Outlook for that user. We also dont support any of the sharing features via Outlook, and all new training material is for Zimbra and not Outlook. We also chose a few high profile individuals and helped them become more efficient with Zimbra to help spead the word. We still have about 50% of the user base on Outlook, POPing off of Zimbra. We expect this number to dwindle as our users decide to start leveraging sharing.

    A mixed mode can be supported, and its probably the only way to move away from a deeply entrenched tech like Outlook. Baby steps are required.

  • by alexburke (119254) <slashdotmail@ale ... inus threevowels> on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:44AM (#28667633)

    Right here [google.com].

    Quoting the Google:

    Now businesses can run Microsoft Outlook on Google Apps instead of Microsoft Exchange, so they can achieve the cost savings, security and reliability of Google Apps while employees use the interface they prefer for email, contacts and calendar.

    Oh, and it works with all editions of Google Apps, both free and paid, and it costs $0 extra.

    You're welcome.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @11:53AM (#28667707)

    I'm the lead developer for a product that is currently available only for Outlook (shameless plug/advertisement: http://www.lettermark.com/ [lettermark.com] )

    The next major release which of the system, which now supports Thunderbird, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Apple Mail, and of course Outlook is in the early alpha stages and has been given to several of our larger clients. We've worked with these clients through their Outlook upgrades, complaints and joys.

    I can tell you that none of them will ever switch to Gmail as it stands. Theres a good chance none of them will switch off Outlook any time soon, period.

    Its not JUST about the company data sitting somewhere else, that really doesn't bother a lot of companies as shocking as it sounds.

    The problem? Any of the customers we have, and pretty much ALL of the customers we have that are over 100 seats ALL have other products besides ours that integrate with Outlook to make their email part of a larger workflow. These people track sales, customer relations, trouble tickets, orders, you name it, ALL via Outlook and most of the time using Exchange so that the data can nicely be shared, calendars can be viewed, ect.

    Some of this you can do with GMail, but its a pain in the ass. We also have use Google Apps for your Domain to test with. Its not even close, and can't be until they open it up. Yes, Outlook is far more open than GMail in its wettest dreams.

    GMail doesn't let my random sales person app hit a button then thrown an entire wedding planning itinerary into an email to the customer, which is also stored in the sales system.

    GMail doesn't let my random technical support person import the message into our issue tracking system.

    GMail doesn't let me encrypt messages with personally identifiable information in it, which is required by law, regardless of whom it is sent to in a couple of states now.

    In short, you may call it 'inertia' if by 'inertia' you mean a far more mature and feature rich product. Otherwise it is simply, and I cringe as I type this, that Outlook is a far more useful tool than GMail.

    I HAVE to deal with Outlook and Exchange, I know far too much about it. I ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT STAND IT. The only reason we're supporting other email clients going forward is because I refuse to be forced to use Outlook for email, so I want a choice. Fortunately, there are still large organizations that use things like Groupwise and Lotus Notes which allowed me a very nice business case for supporting more than just Outlook when I took the project over.

    But if you think for a second there is a replacement for the Outlook/Exchange combination for a integrated solution of your typical business persons email/contacts/calendar then you're are completely out of touch with reality. I REALLY REALLY wish there was, but there isn't. And GMail isn't anything more than OWA, with less features and a better UI. Its just missing far too many features and the ability for third party software to integrate with it for it to become a replacement for Outlook. Not to mention the legal issues as to why companies really shouldn't be using GMail when customer data is being emailed.

    I wish that someone out there would realize this and actually make real Thunderbird extensions to make it on par with the Outlook, but it doesn't exist. I've used all the OSS alternatives, if you think they are equal, you haven't used one of the two things you are comparing. It wouldn't even freaking be hard, all you need is some damn plugins that use IMAP folders for storing things. Do it on something like Cyrus IMAP which has proper notify support and it really could be just as good if not better than exchange! I'd do it myself if I wasn't so overloaded aleady.

    • by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @12:59PM (#28668159)

      All of the things you're describing as locking these people into Outlook sound like things that could better be handled *outside* of Outlook.

      E.g. why is a tech support system being built on top of Outlook? ::shudder::

      The only thing stopping our company from moving to Gmail is lack of REAL BlackBerry/iPhone push support. What is taking Google so long to implement ActiveSync? They licensed it from Microsoft, implemented it for Calendar and Contacts. LET'S GO, GOOGLE!

      • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @01:50PM (#28668411)

        All of the things you're describing as locking these people into Outlook sound like things that could better be handled *outside* of Outlook.

        They're probably integrated with Outlook because the problem they solve is fundamentally 70% communication, 30% organising that communication in some fashion. Their plugin provides the 30% organising, Outlook provides the communication.

        I could equally ask - why the Hell do so few PDAs and smartphones support IMAP NOTIFY? It gives you push email using a perfectly good standard that works quite happily with any half-decent IMAP server. Concept-wise, it's not drastically different to ActiveSync (client establishes a TCP/IP connection with the server, says "let me know when something new comes in" and keeps the connection open).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        As I've said in another post. 'Superior product' is not a synonym for 'lock-in'. GMail lacks features that Outlook has. That doesn't make you 'Locked In' to Outlook. All the data is easily exportable, you can move it very easy, there is no lockin.

        There just simply isn't a product that has the features that Outlook does.

        I'm sorry you don't like Outlook. I don't either, but there is no Lock In, there just isn't any competition, regardless of all the shitty little jokes that try to call themselves replace

  • by vinn (4370) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @12:06PM (#28667805) Homepage Journal

    Yup, you'd pretty much have to pry Outlook out of my cold dead fingers before switching to Google's apps. See, it's not the software, it's the way I work. Outlook just so happens to fit the style of how I like to work, organize my my stuff, organize appointments, and has some nice integration points with tools I need, like CRM.

    (Note: I'm not a Microsoft fanboy. I've been using Linux since 1995 and my first mail client was mh.)

    Google wants me to rethink how I work in order to use their tools. I don't have cute little folders, I have to deal with "labels". I want filters to put mail into folders, not labels, because I don't want to deal with seeing the new mail in my Inbox that I know is irrelevant; I want the Facebook mail in a Facebook folder I can ignore all week long. Searching isn't necessarily as nice as sorting because sometimes my brain might remember someone's initials, but not their full last name. When I want to see all the "K's", I want to see all the K's. All in all, I find it too foreign of a way to work to be truly comfortable. However, I do use it for my personal mail.

    By the way, the argument about using them for hosted services isn't a showstopper for our business. We have 2 Exchange servers and I fully intend on moving them to some kind of hosted solution around the time Exchange 2010 comes out. We have 200 mail accounts or so and I don't really have a problem trading off the amount of administration for someone else taking care of the data.

    PS. The killer app for me for the year is Google Voice. It's going to change how I work and I love it.

  • by taustin (171655) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:31PM (#28668681) Homepage Journal

    And it's got nothing to do with behavioral inertia. Cloud computing adds an additional point of failure. Right now, with Office, if our T-1 goes down, OK, we can't check our email, but we can keep doing other things, like work on spreadsheets to send out by email when the T-1 is back up. With cloud computing, when the T-1 is down, everything is down.

    Yeah, I know, Google Apps has options for working offline, but then, what's the point? How is it different, at that point, from Office?

    No thanks. I know how reliable T-1s are. Yeah, pretty reliable, but without offline capabilities, we're out of business.

    (Plus, I think whoever wrote this has little idea how many business use apps that Google will never have any interest in duplicating, like our cash register functions, and frankly, it would be illegal for us to let them handle some of that information anyway.)

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#28668841)
    I have a very small business. I set up Google Apps and use the entire collection of services.

    First off, I have found that it does not provide the same stability as Gmail. It looks the same, but is is definitely not the same. We have uptime issues, cross-cookie issues with igoogle and gmail and it is generally not as stable as any other email solution I have used including Exchange.

    It is worth about what you pay for it.. we are under 50 accounts, so it is free. If it cost, I would pay $30 a month to a web provider for all you can eat email and be done with it.
  • Searchability (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nerdposeur (910128) on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:58AM (#28675583) Journal

    A few days ago at work I was looking for an Outlook email conversation from maybe 6 months prior. Spent several minutes and couldn't find it, meaning I have to repeat some work, which costs the company.

    If I open my personal Gmail, I can find a 4-year-old congratulatory email from my brother in about 5 seconds with a simple search.

    My company would be better served by the searchability Gmail offers. Whatever other obstacles there are, that's a great benefit.

The most delightful day after the one on which you buy a cottage in the country is the one on which you resell it. -- J. Brecheux

Working...