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Google Education

Why Buy Microsoft Milk When the Google Cow Is Free? 409

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-docs dept.
theodp writes "Touring a high school with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt informed students they're eating Google 'dog food' because Microsoft's costs money. 'Why would we use Google Docs over like Microsoft Word?' a teacher asked the class. 'Because it's free!' exclaimed a grinning Schmidt. 'Schmidt's comment,' writes GeekWire's Blair Hanley Frank, 'highlights one of the risks Microsoft faces in the academic world. While Microsoft has started offering schools incentives to use Office 365, including free licenses for their pupils, the company is under greater pressure from its competitors. As more schools like Chicago's face budget shortfalls, free and discounted products from companies like Google and Apple, especially when attached to financial assistance, start looking better and better.' Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."
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Why Buy Microsoft Milk When the Google Cow Is Free?

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  • Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:43AM (#46531991)

    While Microsoft has started offering schools incentives to use Office 365, including free licenses for their pupils, the company is under greater pressure from its competitors. As more schools like Chicago's face budget shortfalls, free and discounted products from companies like Google and Apple, especially when attached to financial assistance, start looking better and better

    Why does Apple look better?

    • Re:Apple? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:49AM (#46532205)

      Apple recently made their iWork office suite free.
      New Macs now come with it pre-installed.
      That's a pretty good deal compared to the prices for MS office:
      http://www.microsoftstore.com/store?Action=html&Locale=en_US&SiteID=msusa&icid=Office_4up_Link_OfficeSuites_8_2_13&pbpage=OfficeCompare

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Apple recently made their iWork office suite free. New Macs now come with it pre-installed. That's a pretty good deal compared to the prices for MS office: http://www.microsoftstore.com/... [microsoftstore.com]

        Is it free as in bundled with an expensive Mac, or can I get it for free without buying a Mac (download link?)

        • by rvw (755107)

          Is it free as in bundled with an expensive Mac, or can I get it for free without buying a Mac (download link?)

          Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are free on the Mac App Store for qualifying Mac computers purchased on or after October 1, 2013. OS X Mavericks required.

        • It's free on iCloud.com if you have an AppleId and password. And anyone can create an AppleId for free. So yes, you can use Pages, Numbers, Keynote for free as long as you have any device with a modern browser.
    • Re:Apple? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:28AM (#46533981)

      Why does Apple look better?

      Because they can undercut initial bids to induce vendor lock-in and sell tons of hardware.

      The drawback, of course, is that your school's IT department will only have the following conversation:

      IT: Hey, we're having trouble with managing these iPads--
      Apple: Sorry, iPads are not an enterprise product. It's not designed to be managed centrally.
      IT: But you sold us 6,000 of these iPads and told us they would work great in our schools.
      Apple: Yes, but it's not an enterprise product. We don't support any kind of central management.
      IT: But... each iPad needs an Apple ID, and lots of apps use the ID as the user's name. But the ID can't be changed easily. How are we supposed to create and update 6,000 Apple IDs every year? And there's no way to stop the students from resetting the iPad, particularly if they know the Apple ID.
      Apple: We're sorry, but iPads are a consumer product.
      IT: But you said they work great in schools.
      Apple: Yes, they do. Kids and teachers love them!
      IT: Don't you understand the use case for a school? Didn't you even try to?
      Apple: Schools are full of people. People are consumers. Consumers buy our products. Consumers love our products. See, it's very simple!

  • by jythie (914043) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:44AM (#46531993)
    Both my private and work machines both have MSOffice on them and I still use Google Docs for the bulk of my writing. It is light weight, easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and easy to share with collaborators. Office 365 is a bit better in some of those regards, but still makes collaborating with external entities more difficult.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:47AM (#46532001)

      accessible from anywhere

      This is what I get, at this very moment, at https://drive.google.com/ [google.com]

      Google Drive
      Currently you can not access the application.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Both my private and work machines both have MSOffice on them and I still use Google Docs for the bulk of my writing. It is light weight, easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and easy to share with collaborators. Office 365 is a bit better in some of those regards, but still makes collaborating with external entities more difficult.

      I would to too, but my work blocks access to Google docs (and Office 365) as an "information leakage risk"

    • by xelah (176252)
      Also, for people who don't already have it installed, with Google Docs and pretty much anything else that's free you can just go right ahead and use it. No hassling the IT department to install stuff, and when there's no organization-wide licence available, no messing around getting access to the company's money.
      • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:18AM (#46532107) Homepage

        Should schools pay for M$ or take Google's privacy invasive stuff free or is there a third choice. Should the federal provide free open source software under federal core program. Software that is free, has been audited for quality and security, software that is free of privacy invasive elements during and after school use. If all the money spent on software licence had instead been spent on developing software, the government would have produced the necessary software ten times over and been able to distribute for free instead of still paying to this day. Niether M$ nor Google is the answer, they just both keep the problem going, year after year after year, instead of permanently solving the problem with something like https://www.libreoffice.org/ [libreoffice.org].

        • by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:11AM (#46532281)

          Should schools pay for M$ or take Google's privacy invasive stuff free or is there a third choice. Should the federal provide free open source software under federal core program. Software that is free, has been audited for quality and security, software that is free of privacy invasive elements during and after school use. If all the money spent on software licence had instead been spent on developing software, the government would have produced the necessary software ten times over and been able to distribute for free instead of still paying to this day. Niether M$ nor Google is the answer, they just both keep the problem going, year after year after year, instead of permanently solving the problem with something like https://www.libreoffice.org/ [libreoffice.org].

          Dude, stop making sense.

        • by njnnja (2833511) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:53AM (#46532413)

          Although FOSS alternatives keep getting better, they are still (generally) not as easy to set up and use as commercial alternative. On the other hand, to an institution whose entire purpose is to teach people skills, getting them to understand a computer as more than just a glorified typewriter and electronic encyclopedia is a feature, not a bug.

          On the third hand, that might encourage a child's natural curiosity and send them learning about things that are not in the syllabus, which can only hurt the school's standardized test scores. So never mind.

          • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:36AM (#46534109) Homepage Journal

            Although FOSS alternatives keep getting better, they are still (generally) not as easy to set up and use as commercial alternative.

            I see it's been years since you used any FOSS. Installing Gimp or Open Office or Firefox or Audacity on a Windows machine is exactly like installing Photoshop or MS Office or EAC on the same machine; I have all that open source software installed on this Windows 7 machine. The installations for FOSS and proprietary are identical.

            Easier to use? Yes, if you're used to Photoshop, GIMP is a pain in the ass but OTOH if you're used to GIMP Photoshop is just as big a pain. Plus, with FOSS you don't have that productivity-killing ribbon.

            And installing FOSS on a Linux computer is even easier. Go to the software you want (from your distro's repository), click once and enter a sudo password, done. You don't even have to reboot.

            How you got modded up is beyond me because you're 100% wrong. MS employees have lots of mod points today, I guess.

        • If all the money spent on software licence had instead been spent on developing software, the government would have produced the necessary software ten times over and been able to distribute for free instead of still paying to this day.

          I don't contest the logic of this statement in and of itself, but I do wonder were this kind of thinking ends. The Government has it's own critical tasks to perform, and officials should focus their efforts on, well, governing what they're supposed to look after. Should t

        • by Sepodati (746220)

          So you want more government involvement, by creating yet another solution that'll have no applicability after school?

          How is Google violating my kid's privacy by providing Google Doc/Drive so he can write his Rosa Parks essay?

        • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:53AM (#46532769)

          There is still the Free Software Stigma. Especially for desktop software.
          For the most part their arguments against it are rather irrational however, they are persistent.

          Argument 1: Free Software comes with no one to sue if things go bad. Now granted MS,Google and the others have a rather iron clad ULA. But it is like the lottery if something happens that there is a gap in the ULA then bang they can sue for damages.

          Argument 2: No official support. Now granted there are a lot of online resources, and companies willing to support the products. However there isn't that nice and comfy feeling that you can get the guys from the main source to come in and get things going for you.

          Argument 3: Compatibility/Not widely used. Now many open source tools are more widely used then people think, and many tools are very compatible, often more compatible then the upgraded version of the commercial product. However there is that fear that I am the one who is using the next BetaMax in software. For education in technology they incorrectly think teaching people to use office will train the kids to work in business... However it is often the case the products themselves will be so out of date when they graduate that the office only features would be so different that they need to relearn them.

          To expand on argument 3. When I was a kid my school felt it was important to avoid Mac's and focus more on PCs with MS DOS. For the fact that MS DOS based systems were the market leader. However, by the time I graduated Windows has taken over So all the skills learned on using a Mac would have transitioned better then using DOS (Especially the dos training was, read the label and run the .EXE, .BAT, or .COM file). While the Mac training had you using more OS features such as copying files, windows management.

          • by Collective 0-0009 (1294662) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:49AM (#46534261)
            As someone that recently switched an entire plant to LibreOffice (plant, not office), let me tell you why those arguments are crap.

            1: When is the last time anyone with less than 1000 employees was able to sue a software manufacturer for damages? I want someone with personal experience, not a link. It's just not realistic. Besides, why would you sue over a productivity suite... it's not a customer ERP system?

            2: How many times have you needed to contact MS support for an issue with Word? Even Outlook doesn't need support, Exchange does. There is no need for official support for 99% of uses of productivity software.

            3: This one gains some traction. That's why I only tried the switch in the plant where none of the users had any idea they were using "MS Office" or "Libre Office". They are mostly consumers of information, and that's pretty easy to switch to another version. Also I recently had to install Libre in the office so a user could open really old .123 files. It's actually better for compatibility. But still not quite widely used.

            Feel free to use any of those if you need to explain why you are installing free software instead of paying $300 per seat.
    • by donaldm (919619)

      Both my private and work machines both have MSOffice on them and I still use Google Docs for the bulk of my writing. It is light weight, easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and easy to share with collaborators. Office 365 is a bit better in some of those regards, but still makes collaborating with external entities more difficult.

      I have found Google Docs great however if you are moving around (think consultant) then depending on a product that is on-line only is IMHO stupid because there are may places that block outside internet access. Basically having an installed Office suite such as Microsoft Office or even LibreOffice is a much more reliable way of using an Office suite.

      Personally I use LibreOffice under Fedora (it can be also be installed on a MS or Apple OS as well) and I have never found issue with interoffice interoperabi

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I use both Google Docs and OpenOffice/LibreOffice. When I use OO/LO, I usually use it with Dropbox to simulate some of the convenience of Google Docs. As you say, sometimes you want your files with or without the internet.

        Of course, I also need to have MS Office installed, so the use of any other office suite is a bit superfluous. Still, I try to keep my stuff in open formats so there is less to convert down the road.

      • by Sepodati (746220)

        Now you must also have YOUR computer in order to access anything, rather than just any Internet connected computer. It just really depends on how you work. A dropbox folder was the perfect solution for me when I was in school.

    • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexusuk . o rg> on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:00AM (#46533659) Homepage

      Both my private and work machines both have MSOffice on them and I still use Google Docs for the bulk of my writing. It is light weight, easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and easy to share with collaborators. Office 365 is a bit better in some of those regards, but still makes collaborating with external entities more difficult.

      I don't buy the "people use $foo instead of Office because $foo is free" - we've had plenty of free alternatives to office for years and whilest the likes of OpenOffice are used by indiciduals, they seem rarely used by schools and businesses.

      In fact, I can cite a couple of examples: a (teacher) friend of mine started using OpenOffice to teach kids how to use a word processor. His reason was that the community he works in is pretty poor and running OpenOffice on some old hardware is more within the financial grasp of those families. Once the local authority found out about it he was very quickly made to stop and use MS Office instead. (One wonders *why* he was made to stop - you could suggest that it was just jobsworths not wanting anyone to do anything "non-standard". Cynically I suspect the authority get a cut of MS licence fees and didn't liek the idea of losing that money).

      A second example: the utterly pointless "european computer driving licence" doesn't actually mandate any specific software. However, the exam boards do: most of the "computer driving licence" courses *require* the students to be using Exchange (and I've seen a number of schools migrate from perfectly functional non-Microsoft mail systems to Exchange simply because that course requires it).

      My personal opinion is that if any kind of IT course requires people to use a *specific* piece of software, rather than simply any software with certain capabilities, then there's something terribly wrong with the course. I don't think its any good for society to teach people by rote how to use a specific bit of software rather than giving them the skills to figure out any bit of software that is put in front of them.

  • by fey000 (1374173) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:47AM (#46531999)

    " ...Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes ..."

    Wouldn't they have to pay taxes first?

    • by mythix (2589549)

      Idd, and when the money has passed through politicians' hands, a lot of it is long gone... tax money that goes to education... made me chuckle

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:50AM (#46532017)

    Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."

    She is making a dangerous assumption that if tax revenues increased the extra would be spent on schools

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Being a Teachers Union, when they say fund schools it means themselves. But you are right, it doesn't mean it will be spent there.

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:53AM (#46532021)
    1) Cloud office suites store documents.... in the cloud
    2) Cloud office suites make you 100% dependent on their apps. Sure... Google uses "open formats" but as they add features and other companies add features, they lose formatting compatibility.
    3) Here kid, the first one is free. Using free cloud software is great while it's free. Where's the guarantee that it will always be free? When it's not free, how much will it cost? Will I actually be able to move?
    4) Are you seriously asking me to trust Microsoft, Google or Apple more than the other? This just is laughable. They're all a bunch of crooks. The only difference is, at least for now, Microsoft has governments around the world already treating them like crooks, so they at least have to try to be honest. Apple makes absolutely no pretenses of being an honest player and Google... they scare the shit out of me.

    In the end, the best solution is a cloud player which has a clear means of licensing their software and running it within your organization without them being involved. So far as I know, Google doesn't even try for this. Microsoft does have a product, but it's not easy to get.

    So for now, I'll use desktop and mobile apps and cloud storage. Thank you very much.

    P.S. - It's scary how I am not nearly as worried about government spying, I simply accept it as part of life. But Google really scares the shit out of me.
    • ... you'll be ok. Of course plenty of people don't but then the world is full of idiots and IT is no exception.

      As for the companies - sure, they're all out to make money one way or another but if they offer something free then lets milk them for it. Just because someone uses MS Office or Googld Docs at school doesn't mean they'll be wedded to MS or Google for life. Most people who use Linux day to day started off using something else at first whether it be an 8 bit home micro or a PC running Windows or a Ma

    • P.S. - It's scary how I am not nearly as worried about government spying, I simply accept it as part of life. But Google really scares the shit out of me.

      I don't know about scary, but it's definitely weird. While both corporations and governments are, morally, ever-changing amorphous blobs, governments have access to the police, among other entities entitled to use physical force. Especially in the current tense climate of terrorism, shootings and kiddie porn scares, I'd fear the government getting wrongly suspicious of me and letting loose their brutal human-stomping machine much more than just being targeted by a corporation, even though I know some corps

    • Apple makes absolutely no pretenses of being an honest player...

      I literally have no idea what you're talking about here. Not in the sense of "I disagree with you" but in the sense of "I have no clue what he's referring to".

      I ask this seriously, could you please clarify?

    • 2) Name any complex file formats that don't rely on corrosponding applications. pdf and jpg are fine, but what about the psd or svg, doc, odt file that contains all the editable versions? Open formats allow future developers to create converters or alternative, compatible apps.

      3) Yes, there's nothing as a free lunch. But there is no guarantee that in a few years, there will be free a OpenOffice Version that runs on Windows10. So you sjould always be aware that at some point, any service might cost money. Yo

    • I was looking through this and thinking that just before Mr Schmidt's visit, perhaps all the students should have attended a talk from the school principal on the risks of modern life, including such important lessons as the dangers of addiction, how something that looks too good to be true usually is, how to keep your personal data safe on-line, and the importance of knowing who you're talking to and judging how much you should trust what they say. As an example of the latter, maybe all the kids should hav

    • by Ksevio (865461)

      Cloud office suites store documents.... in the cloud

      By default, but you're free to save your documents to your hard drive in what ever format is convenient for you just treating them like a normal word processor.

      Slightly more hassle of course compared to save/edit anywhere, but I guess that's the price you pay to stave off paranoia.

  • Similarly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:55AM (#46532029)
    Why use Google Apps when LibreOffice is not only economically free, but spyware free?
    • by dejanc (1528235)
      I am lucky enough to work for an organization where using LibreOffice came from the top down: if the boss sends you an OpenOffice/LibreOffice document, you tend to install it and aren't too lazy to share work by email or shared directories.

      Another organization I worked for used Google Apps.I tried to point out flaws of it (security problems, what happens when you are offline, etc.) to them, but I got: "Google is not evil, we trust them". This worked OK until one guy managed to incidentally invite a comple
      • Re:Similarly... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:54AM (#46532417)

        The matter of trust is a personal descision here which I'll simply respect.

        But the example with the document sharing is a strawmen, as sharing secret document on a cloud drive with the wrong person is as easy as emailing the same document from a non-cloud storage to the wrong person.

        • Follow up:

          It is even HARDER to share a document with an outside person as this is (at least on one of the GoogleApps services) a feature which has to be enabled by the Domain admin first.

          • by dejanc (1528235)
            Fair enough. I don't think I have a problem with particular practices as much as I do with general philosophy. I try to be security aware whatever I do and I am put off by any sort of thinking where security breach is something that happens to others.

            When you host your own stuff and use your own services, you can be proactive about safety and devise and enforce good policies. While you can develop good practices when using "cloud" technology, it always will be next in line to convenience and your policies
    • Re:Similarly... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:30AM (#46532137)

      School administrators are as thick as horseshit. They are not proactive; they only learn things when other people make pretty presentations and suggest benefits that sound good, despite not necessarily being the best for the school. Google and Microsoft are known companies, with huge marketing budgets and lobbying power. LibreOffice is developed by... who? Do you even know? I'll tell you who - a non-profit called The Document Foundation, an organization that I doubt most LO users would even know existed. Not to discredit their hard work of course, but they have virtually no marketing budget and clout. How do you compete with the big guys in making your product an alternative? Word of mouth? Hah!

      We know about LO because we're geeks and software is our interest. School admins are not, and instead listen to "trusted" businesses to pitch their products. LO has no chance, because of our fucked up world.

    • Why use Google Apps when LibreOffice is not only economically free, but spyware free?

      Because it makes certain types of collaboration harder and LibreOffice requires Java which you may not desire for security reasons. I have standardized my company on LibreOffice but we use Google Docs for certain things that require multi-user access like select spreadsheets. Google Docs also give us some (crude) document distribution control that is more complicated to replicate with LibreOffice. This is not to say there aren't lots of advantages to LibreOffice (there are!) but Google Docs does have som

      • by marcello_dl (667940) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:58AM (#46532241) Homepage Journal

        Libreoffice does not require java for most commonly used functionality. It will just complain when launched by terminal.

        Three years ago I installed libreoffice without java thinking: I will put java when it's necessary. Still not happening.

        A lightweight install of libreoffice (only writer and calc and dependencies, no java) is also a good idea in many cases.

      • by zyche (784345)
        It's the applet part of Java which has a bad security record. Running code under Java has exactly the same consequences to security as running native code, arguably even less.
    • Why use Google Apps when LibreOffice is not only economically free, but spyware free?

      And works in off-line mode.

      And doesn't need a Google Account.

      And respects your privacy.

      And can open MS Office documents.

      And has a familiar GUI.

      Feel free to add to this list...

    • ...as far as we know.

    • Re:Similarly... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:48AM (#46532733)

      I work in K12 education trying to help teachers integrate technology. The answer to your question is more complicated than you think. Google Apps make sense for us because we have a ton of users (students) who move between different devices throughout the course of a day. With Google Drive, Sites, calendar and mail, their stuff follows them around.

      Best yet, it's free. And it's actually more free than LibreOffice. There's nothing to download and nearly nothing to maintain. We have to make sure our devices have Chrome installed and we have one guy who manages the domain and keeps the database of users and passwords working for 56 schools and associated administrators, teachers and employees. As long as our network stays up, we don't have a problem, and most school systems these days have a pretty robust network connection and infrastructure, so long as they are spending their federal e-rate money wisely.

      On the privacy side, Google has language in their Apps domain contracts that protects student data. Is is perfect? Probably not, but it falls in the "good enough" category.

      We are still transition to Google. There are lots of teachers and students who use MS Office more than Google, but it's a process. If I had my way, we would continue the transition and then ditch MS Office completely in a few years, replacing it with Libre as a backup for those times when you have to have a workstation-based office suite. This has the potential to save a massive amount of money and yet still be MORE effective than what we were doing.

  • by cornicefire (610241) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:58AM (#46532039)
    I was asked to pay when my corporation subscribed. Once you're bigger than a certain size, you're stuck paying. Only fools think Google is some fountain of free.
    • As often, it's not a matter of size...
      It's free for educational organizations and charities.

      There are a lot of small business that use the free Google services for business purposes. But running mission critical stuff on a platform without support or guarantees, that's usually somewhere between stupid and suicidal. (may be OK if you have an exit plan, but who has that...)

  • by Selur (2745445) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:02AM (#46532059)

    'Why would we use Google Docs over like Microsoft Word?'
    Stupid question:
    - Word should be compared with LibreOffice
    - GoogleDocs should be compared with Office 365

  • by ei4anb (625481) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:02AM (#46532061)
    "rather than relying on their charity or free software" - Sigh!

    The FOSS movement should work to educate such people. Perhaps we should call it Bespoke Handcrafted Libre FOSS because some people equate "free" with "cheap and nasty"

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:38AM (#46532163)

    'Why would we use Google Docs over like Microsoft Word?' a teacher asked the class. 'Because it's free!' exclaimed a grinning Schmidt.

    It is NOT free. It might not involve a cash outlay but Google isn't providing Google Docs out of the goodness of their heart. You are paying with personal information that they can then sell to others who want to advertise to you. You are trading Google something, it's just not cash. Nothing wrong with that in principle but Eric Schmidt pretending there is no cost is disingenuous. When making this deal with teachers to get personal information of minors it's borderline creepy.

    • by upside (574799) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:56AM (#46532427) Journal

      This is the point that hasn't sunken into the people who use Google services. You are not the customer.

      The advertisers are the customer and you are the product.

      • Exactly. I am no big fan of Microsoft but the way I see it, no matter which vendor they choose, we are quickly moving to a model where class will begin everyday with:

        Welcome to English 101, brought to you by Brawndo! Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator!

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      I have to say, it still puzzles me that Google offer all this stuff for free (as in beer). Getting information on you doesn't seem like enough of a payback for all the time and money invested in development and infrastructure needed for a reliable service like Google Docs.

    • by coofercat (719737)

      IMHO, you get all that with Microsoft, yet you also have to pay them cash to use their service. So in that regard, Google is still cheaper (although it's arguable how much cheaper, if at all).

      Either way, I personally don't see a need to on-line docs (in the main). Libreoffice has this one solved for me, although I can imagine that even that simple install is more hassle than it's worth for some people. One wonders if people who don't want to install software do want to go through a step to pay for a service

  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:40AM (#46532171)

    People buy what is perceived a "good" deal. Whether the "good" is for the buyer or the seller is always a good question.

    Why do people buy bottled water? The tap-water is free...

  • Not the same thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TomGreenhaw (929233)
    The google cow doesn't give all the same kinds of milk and dairy products available from microsoft. What's wrong with having both?
    Also, google is not necessarily free.
  • If a product appears to be free, you are the product. People write down data in documents, and Google is in the data business. Google docs is far from free, you just pay them different.
  • "Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."

    Of course she would. Big Labor's all about squeezing those nasty eeeeevil corporations for all they can get.

    Why should Google pay taxes to the district so they can buy Microsoft? Why should they be forced to help their competition at gunpoint?

    • Yeah yeah, Unions Evil! Oh, and we're all paying taxes at gunpoint!

      .....Or maybe companies keep whining about how they need a better trained labor pool, so they should help pay for it. Maybe that's how our civilization works. Maybe we all pay our taxes so our country can afford the basic infrastructure that allows basic business functions to work at all. Maybe that's part of the social contract needed to live here at all.

      Maybe Unions are for more nuanced than you're making them out to be, and maybe you'

      • Lets see there are no reasons to pay for MS office in K-12. Google docs works, OpenOffice works, they are have similar enough interfaces to not matter.

    • Oh yeah, and as for your "transparent motive" of Big Labor? Unions DO have a transparent motive. It's right there for all to see and they exist for a very good reason. There was a time in this country (and in many others) where OSHA didn't exist, the weekend didn't exist, the 8 hour workday didn't exist.... When corporations have all the power, they set the rules... and strangely enough they use those rules to push down wages and cut expensive safety measures. People were quite literally dying. People were

  • Cloud isn't free, Web "apps" aren't free and Google software isn't free. If you don't pay for something from a big corporation, you are likely the product. Good luck to the people willing to put all they digital life's eggs in the unreliable and risky cloud basket by Google Inc. http://kingofgng.com/eng/2014/03/20/cloud-computing-isnt-made-to-last/ [kingofgng.com]
  • Good enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:36AM (#46532361) Homepage

    Free isn't as important as "good enough". Just because something's free doesn't mean we all dive into it - it has to be *AT LEAST* good enough as well.

    The problem MS has is that things like Google Apps for Education"good enough" for almost everyone's uses and - to schools - free. I've put entire schools onto it. Why not? Gigabytes of "always up" storage, accessible from web, PC, Android, etc. Gigabyte-sized inboxes with one of the best email services around (GMail). Integration into your AD if you desire but also manual / CSV user/group management. Enforced signatures on email, group permissioning, all kinds of integration and automation, and switching to them is just a matter of changing your MX record once on any domain you'd like them to handle (and you can always change it back).

    Google Apps so that people can work from home on the same documents they created in school. No need to spend fortunes on Office licensing just so that that temporary, occasional member of staff can edit a document.

    Google Calendar, which does 99% of whatever I've seen people actually use Exchange calendaring for, with unlimited calendars, no licence fees, no software installation, no onerous browser requirements, no need to expose your servers to the world.

    I've seen schools do most of their timetabling through Google Calendar - it's free and good enough, such that they haven't bothered to look for alternatives because, well, why? They don't have any problems with what it does or does not do.

    That's before you even get into Google Pages, all the other stuff they offer and their Android device management (which is great - set policies, install apps and remote wipe Android devices remotely for everything in your Google "domain").

    Sure, there are power-users somewhere that have problems with it - I am a school network manager and I certainly had other things that I used and just used, say, IMAP or iCal formats to put the data into the things I wanted it in, but hell - for 99.9% of my users it was more than good enough and, because we were a school, free. I've even seen a much larger school use it just to clear some space on their servers so they don't have to upgrade RAID. Give everyone 5Gb of Drive storage and suddenly all that junk they "must have" on their accounts isn't as important any more.

    And, if you ask, they will guarantee that your data stays under EU control - and they have a standard EULA that states just that or schools in the EU wouldn't be able to touch them.

    Free is one thing, but Google Apps etc. is good enough that I've actually paid for it (more storage etc.) in the past and would pay again for it in the future. But there are numerous places I've worked where "free" and "more than good enough" are the terms that won the decision. Even in places with annually recurring MS licenses under educational licensing deals anyway.

  • Google is NOT free (Score:2, Informative)

    by schwit1 (797399)

    Google treats your data(the product) no differently than Facebook. It is there to be mined for the benefit of the advertisers(the customer) and Google's bottom line.
    https://epic.org/2014/03/googl... [epic.org]

  • It's NOT free (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Because it's NOT free?

    Because of industrial espionnage, because of NSA, because of google compiling stuff about my docs, because Google switching and suddenly deciding your Google docs and their google docs, because servers crashes, because I've seen what they did to youtube, because Google is dirty, lying and two-faced, because if it's free you're the product being sold.

    Because Ooo, which IS free, for real.

    GDocs, It's NOT free, at all.

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:29AM (#46532597)

    Google Docs is not free. Ask Stallman about this. The code is closed source and off limits to anyone except the anointed ones at Google. You never know if Google will data mine your data, basically you have given all of your sensitive data over to google.

    A truly free package would be LibreOffice, open source, and which does not demand you hand over all of your data over an internet connection to Google's grid.

  • > Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."

    I'm sure she would. And I suppose the schools are all going to buy software for the students then? Or perhaps the students will stay after and do all their work at school. What a self-serving bi**h.

  • "Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."

    No, I think free, industry standard software will do more for these kids than putting more money into the school system. I don't think more money to the schools is going to fix the problems these students have, empowering them with relevant skills will.
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @09:26AM (#46533167)

    And it is fantastic.

    We still have microsoft in the server closet, but in the past two years we've dumped our Terminal server/SQL farm for cloud based apps, and moved off of exchange to Google Apps.

    We're now rolling out chromebooks as a replacement for MacBooks in the classroom. The combination of quick boot time, instant data save to the cloud, low acquisition costs, and no ongoing costs simply can't be beat.

    We can buy 5 chromebooks for the cost of one MacBook - with a lot less administrative overhead.

    Sure, there are creative areas where MacBooks still make sense, but handing a child a $1000 laptop no longer makes sense. There is enough stuff in the cloud to teach kids how to research, write, and learn.

    Besides, we need to stop teaching kids "Microsoft" or "Apple" and we need to teach them how to learn. The tool should be irrelevant.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @11:18AM (#46534535)

    I use Google apps all the time. I even got Google certified for Google apps.

    I really want to like Google. I am sick to death of Microsoft's abusive monopoly.

    But Google apps are poor quality. Google seems unwilling to fix serious bugs that have existed for years. Google drive does not sync worth a damn. And there is still no Linux client.

    Again, I really want to like Google, but Google makes it more, and more, difficult.

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