Email Wars: Microsoft Fires Storage Salvo at Google
By Jim Lundy
The Email Wars are back. Microsoft attacked Google yesterday, the first time I’ve seen a move at the product feature level that puts Google on the defensive. Yesterday, Microsoft announced it was expanding the Mailbox storage for Exchange Online Users from 25 GB to 50 GB, effective immediately. This includes all editions of Office 365.
Microsoft Office 365 and 50 GB of User Storage
In the Cloud part of the Email wars, Google has had Microsoft on the defensive for a few years in Email. The latest version of Office 365, when combined with lower prices, has started to change all that. We have had a lot of chats with end users this year and we have seen a shift in momentum, partially due to the better functionality that is part of current edition of Office 365.
Doubling the storage to 50 GB is a move we expected Google to make, but Microsoft did it first. Google will have no option but to match or exceed that. To us this signals a new front in the Email Wars. This puts Google on the defensive and there is a lot at stake. Note that Google offers 30 GB of storage (per user) for Google Apps for Business.
Momentum shifts in sports and it shifts in technology. In the Email Wars, Microsoft is gaining momentum with Office 365. This move on storage will help them. Even this week at VMWorld, I had firms tell me that they were seriously considering moving off of Google Apps for Business to Microsoft Office 365.
Email Wars and Cloud Suites: File Conversions Matter
It isn’t a surprise that people are considering switching away from Google. In fact, other Cloud Suites are in play as well, including IBM SMartCloud Docs and Huddle and more. One of the attractions of Office 365 is that users can keep file formats in native Office format. Other firms are making it easier to work with Microsoft formats. Our extensive use of Google Docs, which is part of Google Apps for Business, suggests Google still has work to do in this area, since the task of converting to and from various formats can get old. Google Docs is great for collaborative authoring, but for professional looking documents or presentations, Microsoft Office is still the king.
Mobile access still a weakness for Google and Microsoft
Mobile is still the area where both Google and Microsoft are playing catchup against Cloud startups and titans such, as IBM. Huddle makes it easy to collaborate with a Tablet and content and so do others such as AirWatch and Box. Good is making it more secure too. Google Drive feels and acts clunky. Office 365 is available for iPhone but you have to be an Office 365 subscriber. We thing both Google and Microsoft can do more in Mobile and they will. In the meantime other providers may be more attractive options.
Expect Lower Prices, Yammer ESN Factor
Microsoft still resists matching price with Google, but they will when push comes to shove. The question on pricing is how low will Google go to win major accounts? They can’t go much lower and make money, so it will have to be more features added into the equation. On top of that, there are new entrants in the Cloud Suites, including Apple, which is beta testing its Editors (Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote) as Cloud versions.
We expect Google to continue to win their share of deals, but Microsoft has a not so secret weapon called Yammer. When added into the Office 365 equation, it gives Microsoft an advantage in Enterprise Social Networking. Enterprises are not using Google Plus for their Enterprise Social Network.
The bottomline is never count Microsoft out of a market. Their shift to 50 GB of Cloud Email storage is pre-emptive and comes even as the Ballmer replacement saga is less than a week old. Email is the one market Microsoft is passionate about and this move to gain the advantage back in features demonstrates that. The Email Wars are back. Expect more salvos from both sides.