Microsoft Office has been the gold standard for business productivity software for more then a decade but Google is once against taking strides to stand out against convention. As most people know Google has become more than just a search engine. One of their many branches has been developing web based productivity tools. Not wanting to lose ground in an online marketplace, Microsoft has recently released new versions of SharePoint and Exchange. To understand the rivalry it’s important to understand which each company has to offer.

The promise of Google Docs is that it is a self contained writing, spreadsheet and presentation tool that can be accessed from anywhere. The mobility factor of being able to access all of your saved documents from any computer with an internet connection has been one of Google’s prime features. The fact that the software is web based means that there is no setup time and no question of compatibility from version to version.

Microsoft has seen this potential and have been releasing online versions of their software. In the case of Microsoft the strategy is slightly different; stressing “software-plus-services” instead of pure web based applications. Microsoft is also offering the option of hosting the software for businesses on their own proprietary servers or to allow businesses to host on their own. This last point brings up one of the biggest detractors of the Google based applications.

Businesses are reliant on productivity software to plan and catalogue private data vital to the survival of the company. With the Google solution, all of this information is contained on servers outside of the security of the client company. This creates two potential problems: First, is the question of possible information theft. As it stands now only the login process of Google Docs is secure, leaving integral data vulnerable to attack. Secondly, being as the data is hosted on Google hosted servers there is no direct backup or failsafe if the Google servers are down.

Until both services can be offered on company side servers it is not advisable for businesses to adopt either productivity solution. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what new developments the Microsoft-Google rivalry spawns in the coming months.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department