by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft to CIOs: Google Cares About Ads Not You

Nov 18, 20113 mins
Cloud ComputingEnterprise ApplicationsInternet

A new Microsoft company blog post offers a warning to IT groups: Google will choose ad revenue over your business needs. But with Google Apps adoption growing steadily, is Microsoft starting to sound desperate?

The gloves are off again between Microsoft and Google on the cloud productivity front, with Microsoft drawing first blood in the latest tussle.

Redmond dropped an antagonistic blog post with a clever title “Google Atmosphere or ‘Admosphere’?”, a reference to Google’s annual event that brings CIOs together to talk cloud.

Microsoft’s argument, which the company has used repeatedly in reference to Google Apps, is that Google still cares more about making money from search advertising than supporting CIOs.

Blog author Tony Tai, a Microsoft senior product manager, goes on to fault Google for not having a proven track record with business productivity and collaboration tools, for having no long-term enterprise road map, for having a hidden Google tax that weighs down Google Apps’ initially light price, and for having a privacy policy that is beholden to ad revenue and that goes “right up to the creepy line.”

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Solid points all. I agree that Google’s motivation for getting into the enterprise business is not entirely genuine. There’s no question that Google is committed to developing great Web-based productivity tools, but Google Apps is also a decoy used to hobble one of Microsoft’s cash cows in order to protect Google’s own cash cow: search ads.

The more money Microsoft has to throw at Office, the less it has for Google search competitor, Bing. Ninety-six percent of Google’s revenue comes from search ads, and Google is no dummy when it comes to protecting its cash cow.

Nevertheless, in the comments section below Microsoft’s “admosphere” blog post a minor war breaks out, as reader comments often do, with various Google Apps supporters attacking Tai and Microsoft for taking cheap shots at Google over ad dollars and privacy when Microsoft is also in the search business. And also there is much back and forth over how prevalent ads really are within paid Google Apps for Business (the truth is ads are enabled by default in Google Apps, but users can disable them using the domain settings).

When Microsoft released its cloud-based productivity suite Office 365 in late June, Google published a company blog post “365 reasons to consider Google Apps.” It argued that Microsoft is not a true cloud vendor and just takes “legacy desktop software and moves some of it to a data center and calls it ‘cloud.'”

Google also claims that Google Apps works across devices and operating systems better the Office 365, has a simpler and more affordable price plan ($50 per user per year), and has more frequent, easier-to-access upgrades.

While Microsoft may still have control of the enterprise productivity and collaboration game, Redmond is definitely hearing Google’s footsteps and is playing more aggressively.

Yet Microsoft’s methods are getting a little desperate, like reportedly paying offering $250,000 to the University of Nebraska this year to pay for consultants to help move from Lotus Notes to Office 365. Whether it’s driven by pride or fear, Microsoft is going all out to let CIOs know that Google doesn’t really care about them.

Both companies have arguments for adopting their respective cloud products, but what do you say? Are you thinking about migrating to a cloud service for e-mail, collaboration or productivity tools? Would you choose Google Apps over Office 365?