Web-based business apps: Top Competitors to Google Apps


Google Apps isn’t the first player in the field of Web-based business applications. It’s got some catching up to do with companies that have paved the way. By knowing who the other players are in the field, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not to sign up for Google Apps yourself, as well as whether or not to choose the Premier version.



Google Apps Versus Office Live

Google’s biggest competitor in the field of online computer storage and business applications is undoubtedly Microsoft Office Live. Both Google and Microsoft are offering individuals and small businesses a chance to achieve much of the functionality available to larger businesses. In both cases, documents and data are created by you, the individual user. If your business signs up for Google Apps, the other members of your workgroup will have access. Although you own your data, you store it on servers that are owned by the larger corporation, either Google or Microsoft. In either case, you rely on Google or Microsoft to protect your information. There are, however, significant differences between the two services:


·         Cost. Office Live Basics is free but doesn’t contain any business applications, only Web page and e-mail tools. The two versions that do include applications, Essentials and Premier, cost a fee paid on annual basis. The regular (not Premier) version of Google Apps is free.

·         Interface. Microsoft limits you to using the ultra-slow Internet Explorer browser to access Office Live. Google Apps supports Firefox and other browsers.

·         Another Big Difference. Both the regular and premier versions of Google Apps can import and export Microsoft Word .doc and Microsoft Excel .xls files. Office Live does let you open and work with Word files, as long as you have Office 2003 or later already installed on your file system: it isn’t an online version of Microsoft Office, however.



Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com provides its paying members with a software environment that allows users to access and share applications that everyone in your office can use. This alternative to Google Apps also incorporates the kinds of online applications that Google Apps provides.



Pros and Cons

Google offers huge server farms that are capable of handling huge amounts of data. Google has big ambitions that include taking business away from the leader in the desktop software market (Microsoft), so it has a vested interest in continually updating and improving the quality and range of the applications it makes available.



On the downside, Google has run into some security flaws. If you store your business data on its site, you do put a large measure of trust in its company and its servers.

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