As I wrote yesterday, some folks think it's within the realm of possibility that Microsoft will offer its Office suite over the Internet. A bit of news today is used by some to illustrate that Redmond better get busy on that. Computerworld's Preston Gralla writes that Washington, D.C.'s decision to use Google Apps instead of Microsoft Office to produce some content for an ongoing intranet project is "trouble." Others will follow where D.C. leads, he predicts.
The savings reported by CTO Vivek Kundra, who is leading the intranet build-out, does sound hefty: $475,000 per year vs. $4 million. However, the comparison involves proprietary software from Plumtree, not Microsoft. It can also be easy to miss that the city's entire workforce isn't switching from Microsoft to Google desktop applications, nor is every function within the intranet. (Kundra does offer some interesting ideas about letting the two desktop suites battle it out on city employees' desks.) Kundra touts the attractiveness of Google Apps' open standards, but the example of putting YouTube videos of managers describing job openings onto a job fair site kind of makes me hope that was a little joke.
Also yesterday and today, a massive Gmail outage is affecting an unknown number of customers, some of whom are reporting that they cannot conduct business as usual, reports IDG.
Clearly, one intranet project does not a crisis make for Microsoft, at least not in this case. The multiple outages that Google Apps users, including paying customers using the Premier tool set, have been experiencing this week and throughout the year cannot be ignored by enterprises evaluating the viability of Google's tools in mission-critical environments.