MS LIVE vs GoogleApps for Education


Image Source: http://luckythecashcow.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/cashcow.jpg

Because of Google, Microsoft has been forced to make a free ad-supported version called Office Web Apps...Office Web Apps, for instance, allows users to create, edit and share Office docs with people who have Office and those who don't. Two people could simultaneously edit the same spreadsheet, Word document or PowerPoint presentation from different locations through a PC, the Web or a Windows Mobile phone...Google dismisses the new Office features. "We're not about new features," Vander Mey said. "We're about new behavior."
Source: Seattle Times, Big Leap: Microsoft Makes Free version of Office, its cash cow, Available: 05/08/2010

This past Friday, I had the chance to sit in on a conversation that started out with GoogleApps for Education and morphed into MS LIVE. The question in my head became, "Why are technology directors drawn to MS LIVE over GoogleApps for Education?" The answer seems pretty straightforward but you wouldn't know it from my  notes of the meeting:
 Free email, lots of storage, apps that are being released in June. Office is going online. Kids can create a hotmail account and transfer everything over, just like you can with Google. In MS LIVE, 25 gigs of SkyDrive. It's created by default. A lot of the process can be automated.
When someone asked a question, which would you choose (MS or GoogleApps), I drafted the following in response:

Howdy! It depends on what your network staff and leadership is comfortable with . For example, in one District I am familiar with, I could see network support staff giving preference to MS LIVE because their perception of what would constitute an "easy" transition would be to stick with Microsoft. Given that, though, that district is still preferring to stick with MS Exchange and is upgrading to the latest version. 
While there are many variables to consider, end users are will assign weight to the reasons they prefer. As an end user, I was delighted by the GIGABYTES of space provided by both GoogleApps and MS LIVE for the end user, not to mention the suite of tools. However, in the end, I was sold on the testimonials of actual users and the suite of tools that go beyond just traditional Office productivity (e.g. word processor, spreadsheet, presentation).
MY preference in this area--providing a suite of Office apps and other services--would be to outsource as much as possible to eliminate costs, maintenance, etc. As such, I would shift the District to GoogleApps for Education or MS LIVE after bringing in district stakeholders to discuss the rationale for the change, share testimonials of others who have made the switch, consider cost savings and where those savings might be applied, etc. 
And, while some districts are making the switch to GoogleApps for Education, others are switching--not from their locally hosted email/calendaring solution--from GoogleApps to MS LIVE (Socorro ISD in Texas). We could easily argue that this should be done for what will prepare students for a future "in the cloud"...and I'm sure early on, that's how Microsoft found its way into schools. My goal would be to minimize, if not eliminate, funding flowing out of the District and invest it in increased hardware access for students, staff and community.
So...it depends. But have no doubt, I would definitely be an advocate putting our services in the Cloud. There is a lot left over to do so no one need fear for their job...now, if they fear change, that's something else entirely and we can work to alleviate that.
Can I hear an "Amen!"?

And that was my response. The more I considered it, the more I wondered, is there a comparison chart anywhere? For fun--and anything is fun on a Friday evening--I created a comparison chart and then threw it out to the winds of Twitter and email listservs to see what changes might result, how others with their own biases--and I clearly have a bias--might modify the chart. Anyone can adjust the GoogleDocs spreadsheet, so you'll have to think about what you're reviewing...but isn't that what we all have to do anyways?

Check out the comparison chart, and my thanks to the contributors! You can always check the revision history to see who made the modifications! Short link to the chart is http://bit.ly/gappslivechart











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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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