Google apps and the modern office

3 min read

I remember attending a conference in San Francisco in May 2006 when I met a product manager on Google’s office software product, Google Docs. Google had just purchased the online word processing app called Writely and they were integrating this into a product that would compete head on with Microsoft Office. I begged the Google guy for beta access to their product because I was so fed up with Microsoft’s clunky and expensive products.

We switched over to Google Docs in 2006 (rebranded Google Apps in 2007) and have not looked back. We were using non cloud based Microsoft Outlook before. As the company was expanding, we were exploring the upgrade to Exchange, but made the decision to “Go Google” for the following reasons.

15 Reasons to Go Google

  • Google Apps is free for companies with fewer than 10 users. For larger companies, the cost is $50/user/year. This is far cheaper than buying an Exchange server. The pricing plans are available here.
  • Gmail for your domain (meaning that mark (at) is run via the Gmail platform)
  • Easier to maintain (no need for a tech expert to manage your mail server)
  • Access anywhere (offline access is even available when you are on a plane, etc)
  • Much more reliable uptime
  • Spam fighting!
  • Easier mail search (this is Google after all)
  • Shared calendar function is very nice
  • 100% cloud based means this can be accessed on any device (I know Microsoft has a cloud solution too, but the cloud is not in MS’s DNA so I never fully trust their cloud claims)
  • Easy admin tools to manage user accounts
  • Google Drive (Google’s answer to MS Office) is all sharable which makes collaborating in the office so much more effective. We use Google Drive all the time. We still have MS Office because Excel is very powerful, but for anything collaborative, we use Google Drive.
  • The Gmail interface (threaded replies) is much easier to deal with than Outlook’s interface. (note, this takes some getting used to, but in time, you will love it)
  • Automatic upgrades
  • The Google Apps marketplace has a range of business apps than can be integrated into your Google Apps account.
  • Plays nice with Android and iPhone (it also works with Blackberry, but that platform seems to be dying a slow death)

Killer features that I use for business on a daily basis


Why I love it

  • nested emails
  • you will never lose an email again with Google’s powerful search

Google Drive (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, surveys). 

Why I love it

  • collaborate with colleagues on the same document or spreadsheet in real time
  • Sufficient features for most users; only math jocks would still need to use MS Excel for advanced analysis.

Google Calendar

Why I love it

  • share a calendar with anyone
  • subscribe to public calendars

Google Talk

Why I love it

  • Instantly message colleagues anywhere

Google Contacts

Why I love it

  • Efficient contact manager

Google Sites

Why I love it

  • Create simple web sites, like wikis, to exchange information with colleagues
The one caveat I will leave you with is that Google’s word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools are not as feature rich as MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This doesn’t really apply to 75% of modern office workers, but for those people needing advanced number crunching on a regular basis, I would recommend keeping a copy of MS Office lying around.

How do you feel? Do Google’s free services fit the bill or do you prefer stick with the traditional players like Microsoft Office? And please, oh please, don’t tell us you use Lotus Notes.

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