Microsoft Decries 'Hidden Cost' of Google Apps

While the company has diversified into a range of products and services, Windows and Office remain Microsoft's major cash earners; the revenue from these massive areas is used to cover losses in segments like Internet use.This helps to explain why MS recently published a story on the hidden cost of migrating to Google Apps.

The company's assurances that it's only trying to help companies make a more informed decision is a poorly built facade for masking its own unease. Tom Rizzo writes: "No one would willingly give the IRS more than they owe, or submit to taxes they weren’t required to pay. So why is it that people and businesses allow themselves to be unfairly “taxed” by Google?  I have learned there are hidden costs when using Google Apps that are tantamount to paying a “tax".

Microsoft claims Google 'taxes' users $50 in one-time expenses and $495 in recurring annual costs. Half of this—$360←goes to pay for Google Apps Support Services.  Even if we accept Microsoft's position that this represents a hidden tax, Redmond is the last company that should throw mud. Microsoft's Software Assurance program forces companies to pay yearly license fees for the right to upgrade to the next version of Office at a reduced cost. Tellingly, it does not guarantee that an updated version will appear in any given year. Attempting to tar Google over support costs is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Your world, as Google sees it.

There are two additional fallacies in Microsoft's argument. First, the company assumes that the business in question is deploying a very advanced set of capabilities as opposed to installing Word and Excel with some basic file sharing. Second, it assumes that IT staff and employees are already completely trained on all of the relevant Office products.

Microsoft scores a few points when it comes to customer support (Google doesn't offer as many 24x7x365 options) but mostly drums up FUD . According to the company "Because Google Apps are entirely HTML-based, users can experience substantial formatting problems and potential data loss during data and document migrations and conversions." We agree with the bit about formatting trouble, though this can happen when moving between different versions of Office apps as well. Data loss is a bit much—we've yet to see a program jealously delete a saved file just because it was imported into a different program.

Redmond's fears may be well-founded. As a brand, 'Microsoft Office' evokes an image of single-user workstations, word processing, and spreadsheets. Microsoft's core programs assume, by default, that the user is working on their own. Google Apps, in contrast, assumes the end user is going to want to share this data with other people. One model isn't necessarily better than the other, but Google's application business, like its search business, is built around the concept of making data available to anyone who wants it. Office isn't—at least not with the same degree of simplicity.