Why I love Google Premium Apps

From the get go I should point out that these days I have a bias against Microsoft and the way it operates its business. In fact, I have a bias against any large business where you can spend years with as a ‘valued’ client but you just get treated like a number when it comes to actual service.

I had a situation a few years ago where I had invested over $1000 on upgrading my computers to Windows Vista. Basically what I did was upgraded from XP and purchased a few upgrade versions of the new product. The product itself was like any Microsoft product, worked fine as long as you put up with bugs and driver incompatibility issues (not always Microsofts fault).

Over the years I learned one thing about computers and operating systems, they need to be refreshed at least once a year to keep the computer running smoothly, this is because of constant upgrades to software, files and devices and because you find you desperately need some software to do a task – only to find you never use it again, in one short word – clutter!

Because of this I would do a fresh install once every 6 months or so. This was usually a full days work, but once I had backed everything up, installed all of the software again, my computer would work like near new. However, it was after I purchased the upgrade I ran into some serious problems. Here is what happened.

I purchased a new hard drive and wanted to backup my data and then do a fresh install. So I loaded my Vista upgrade disc and begun the process. What happened next stunned me. Not only did it want to know that I had a previous version of the Windows Operating System, which is pretty common practice, but it wanted me to install Windows XP first and then install Vista over the top of it. Why would I want to install a crappy old version of Windows and then install a slightly less crappy version over the top of it? This was ridiculous!

This could not be right, so I called Microsoft and they informed me that as I only purchased upgrade versions this would be my only option. I told them that this was a stupid policy. What was I to do? I had no option but to install XP and then Vista.

Then I had a revelation, who the hell do they think I am? Over the years I had purchased every version of WIndows and every version of Office multiple times and usually on release, Microsoft had relegated me to a cheap dime hooker and this got me started on my quest to rid myself of any company that did not value me as a client.

So here is what I did – I started researching alternatives. What are my alternatives? There is Linux, but this was going to be too much hassle, then I went to Apple, and after doing some digging around decided that my next purchase would be an Apple. Apple is a company that gets lauded for their products beauty and style, however until the early 2000’s they really didn’t have much style, most of their products were awful, it wasn’t until the iPod that Apple really understood that they were onto something special. Today Apple make beautiful products and although their practices are not much better than Microsoft’s (but they are better) at least I was not lining one companies pocket that made me pay the price for the small percentage of people that pirate their software.

My one real problem with the transformation was MS Outlook and Word, I considered this my most important piece of software. If I purchased the Apple version I was still lining Microsoft pockets, so I researched further and rather hesitantly decided on Google Premium Apps.

Google Premium Apps costs around $50 USD per user per year (basically per real email address). Now everything I do is securely available online under my own domain name, my mail, my documents, my spreadsheets, my bookmarks, my business – everything!

So let’s look at what I get, you should be able to work out what it replaces.

  • Google Documents
  • Google Spreadsheets
  • Google Presentation
  • Google Drawing
  • Google Forms
  • Google Wave
  • Google Video
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Chat
  • Google Mail
  • and more

Google make it a simple task to transfer all of your mail history into their app, I had around 5 gigabytes of mail and it only took an evening and its was all there. Once I got setup it was just a matter of configuring everything and added all of my mail and signatures. Now I get all of my company email, my Hotmail, My Yahoo Mail, My Gmail, My AOL Mail all into one account. I can also respond with emails, create canned responses and more.

I can access all of these from any location on any device at any time I have Internet access. I can also share many of these things with colleagues, partners and friends.

Google also allow you to build online apps that can communicate with many of these services. You can have shared contacts, calendars, documents and even host data online.

The one thing I thought I could not do without or replace, ended up being the one thing that I would never go back to. In a world where access to information for business is of the utmost importance, Google actually walks all over the competition.

Yes, there is a moral to this story, if your supplier treats you any less than you deserve, remember there are always alternatives, you may feel like they are irreplaceable, but for a little pain you will be surprised at what alternatives are out there.

Apple, Google, Google Premium Apps, Microsoft

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About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

29 Responses to Why I love Google Premium Apps

  1. Mike Salway November 16, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    I agree Peter. After too many times of having to rebuild computers and operating systems, losing data etc, I’m slowly transferring everything online.

    Accessible from anywhere, on any computer or laptop, always backed up. In addition to the Google services, I also use DropBox which is a great tool.

    The only hassle is when you’re in an area without internet connection (can still happen these days!) – takes some forward planning to make sure you have downloaded the most recent versions to work on locally, but it’s still worth that minor hassle.

  2. Peter Ricci November 16, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    Hi Mike, so true, I have a local version of my mail on Desktop and also on Laptop

    I also use dropbox which is a great tool – why cant Google Buy them?

  3. Nick November 16, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    (Disclaimer: I use Linux on all my devices, including my phone)
    Actually Peter, all the driver bugs you find are Microsoft’s fault. Sure Microsoft didnt make the driver, but they did make the framework that all drivers use and that is usually where the problem is.

    For example, Linux handles drivers a lot better. A friend recently built a computer from scratch for his first time. Dual booting Linux and Windows. With Linux not a single piece of hardware needed any mucking about – plug two different brands of printer in, few seconds later they both work in all apps. Webcam, the lot just works.

    With Windows there was a large search for old driver cds and then a poke around various manufacturers websites for drivers plus the motherboard and video card cds.

    That is the process with Microsoft co-operating with hardware makers for drivers. Linux gets virtually no help and they beat the process hands down.

    Back on to your main point, I use Google Apps Premier for my personal email account and it is fantastic. It could get a bit pricey for a whole small business but there is also the free version you can use as well which just has ads and less space.

  4. Peter Ricci November 16, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Hi Nick, with the release of Vista most 3rd party companies had a long time to get drivers out and didn’t.

    As for Linux, it may be fine for the technically minded, but it is still not ready for the masses, which is pretty disappointing considering how long it has been since it was a so called ‘mainstream’ product.

    Google Apps is brilliant, for $50 it is not badly priced, but if you want to dig in there is a lot on offer.

  5. Glenn Rogers November 16, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    I’m scared to do anything I’m still running office 2000 , if I upgrade I think my PST file may not be compatible plus it would take me forever to to reinstall all the apps I have now.

    If Google bought a country and ran it, I’d move there.

  6. Stephen Neate November 16, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Nice write up, and a big ‘here here’ about Google Apps. Its a great combination of products and is now a true alternative to the MS Office / Exchange system, if an office/individual is OK with changing some of their practices. Cloud based computing in that manner will only get better with a few alternatives to Google Apps already around. http://www.zoho.com/ is a great offering, and MS are also making inroads with their cloud based offerings. (call me cynical but if they ‘MS’ didn’t their market share would be eroded)

    The only downside is that I think with all of Google’s combined products, services and of course search that they are close to knowing THE question to the answer of 42. (thankfully Google is not a government, nor totally controlled by a government)

    Regarding the OS yes Vista was just a cashcow for MS vendors (I am sure Harvey Norman and others welcomed that revenue) but as a precursor and testing ground with millions of users it has made their release of Windows 7 a great product.

    That all being said, I work with Linux 50+% of the time and it has improved remarkably over the past few years. One of the most popular distributions ‘Ubuntu’, I would say, is now suitable for my Nanna to use. From installation (including all common required programs) it is a breeze either as dual boot or standalone and for those with an interest well worth looking into. (even if its just to give that old Laptop a new life)

  7. Nick November 16, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Peter have you checked Linux out? Its actually very well polished and getting better all the time. Grab a copy of Kubuntu and you should be able to use it very easily. Give it to receptionists to save on a Windows licence – they probably wont notice any difference.

    Its mainly the non-tech people who are very used to Windows that have problems simply because its different. People who arent great with computers figure it out very easily.

    Glenn, Google Docs solves all those incompatible format issues. It will read pretty much anything (I think slightly less than OpenOffice) and write to all the common formats.

  8. Peter Ricci November 16, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Glenn, seriously! lol

    Pretty easy actually, you can upload that PST file 🙂

  9. Glenn Rogers November 16, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Upload that pst file ?

    My pst file is in a separate folder, it will be found by Office 07 if I install it but I understand it may not be compatible and I cant transfer all my emails to a new pst can I ?

  10. Glenn Rogers November 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Just spoke to my PC guy he reckons everything should transfer over ok.

  11. Mac November 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    ha ha Glenn, I’d like to move there but worry about not being able to see the trees for the Cloud! 🙂
    ps Don’t be fooled by people saying PST migration is a doddle – It has never worked for me in 3 transfers! Still got emails etc everywhere!

  12. Glenn Rogers November 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Think I’ll stick with Office 2000 for as long as I can.

  13. Peter Ricci November 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    I have done the PST thing for probably 20 clients and never heard a complaint 🙂

    But there are always exceptions 🙂

  14. Glenn Rogers November 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    One of my programmers lost 7 years of emails doing this so I’m a little cautious, though I back mine up so I could revert to Office 2000 then I think……..I just cant be bothered.

  15. Chris Wilkins November 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    we have recently converted the whole office to the Google Apps platform. Like everything takes some time to get use to it but the advantages are awesome

    Also from …..watch this space over the coming weeks

  16. Ryan O'Grady November 16, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m still trying to decide whether I like the functionality of their email app. Gets a bit confusing when there are a lot of replies and people involved in a email conversation thread. Then if you delete a reply that part of thread will no longer exist, makes it very hard to find a past email reply.

    But yeah I agree, Google have some cool apps and their approach rocks!

  17. Stephen Neate November 17, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    Ryan, you can always enable IMAP control with the Google Email then use the email in your favourite app. (like Thunderbird) That way you are only using the web based interface when you are not near your usual computer. The only downside of using via imap is that folders (labels) are limited in length but with a bit of organisation it can be done.

    Don’t forget that one of the best things about Google Email is its speed of search over all your email. Something that most traditionally installed (especially Outlook) cannot do. Because of that speed you don’t need to have an extensive set of storage folders.

  18. Glenn Rogers November 17, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Ths works very well for me –

    Lookout is a search add-in for Microsoft Outlook, that allows you to quickly search through the content of your mail folders. Unlike the built-in search feature which tends to be rather slow, Lookout indexes your mail on a regular schedule, and produces almost instant results. It also offers advanced search options that enable you to limit the keyword search to recipients, dates, attachments and more. Lookout was purchased by Microsoft and discontinued (?) but it still works fine with Outlook 2000/2003, visit the homepage for instructions on how to make it work with Outlook 2007.

    http://www.snapfiles.com/get/lookout.html

  19. Ian Campbell November 18, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Today, we’re announcing that the Ray White Group has gone Google!! So excited about the platform that this will give our businesses for connecting, collaboration and delivering a bunch of new tools. Not to mention the cost savings!!

  20. Robert Simeon November 18, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Ian,

    Gone Google – are you going PPC? Can you expand further?

    Cheers

  21. Ian Campbell November 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Hi Robert,

    Today, we turned on the Google Apps platform for 7000 of our Australian members. That includes mail, calendar, docs, sites, video and come Monday, we’ll be turning on 2 new tools for our network that have been built on the Google App Engine platform. They’ll be announced at our Wealth Conference next week on the Gold Coast.

    For us, it gives us a whole new way of delivering flexibility and innovation to our network. Culturally, Google is a perfect fit for us.

    Sooooo excited.

    Ian.

  22. Robert Simeon November 19, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Ian,

    Congratulations and great to see a franchise adopting the Google platform although I know that with real estate franchises it can be like leading a horse to water. I’m sure that ones that activate the technology will reap the benefits.

    Cheers

    Robert

  23. Peter Ricci November 19, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    Hi great to hear from you Ian. Also I think it is a very wise move. I suppose the point I was trying to make was that mail was the one area I was worried about, however it has become the one part of the suite I love so much.

    This is not to say Google are everything to me, I am a little %^$##$ at some of the stupid comments emanating from the mouth of the CEO of late.

    That be said, they have proven that you can make money from providing great products and have been one of the true successes of the internet age.

  24. Shane Dale November 21, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    We use google mail and docs etc – all good.

    We also use internally Openoffice or neooffice and thunderbird for mail havent looked back. All FREE.

    Microsoft office is not needed at all – except for tracking changes in legal documents – so I have severl licences floatinga round – I keep one active purely for that.

    I much prefer Mac to PC, especially Vista. The big difference is – no need for the IT guy hassles to constantly tinker with the mac – so I see it as a saving in IT costs, and no viruses. Just better.

    I have tried linux desktops in 2006 – and there were great with a few minor bugs – but the staff whinging! If anything doesnt match EXACTLY windows – every non techie staffer wants it thrown in the bin – but when windows fails – thats OK because its normal. Weird but true.

    I may return to linux again soon, but the mac experience has been so good, I may buy more – currently we have an environment with all 3 OS.

    WARNING – the BSAA which is a attack dog legal firm funded by Microsoft and Adobe – has a bounty of $500 to any employee willing to write an affidavit against their employer regarding unlicensed software in your office – regardless of the outcome of any action – i.e if its true or not.

    Disgruntled or ex employees love this tactic.

    The real effect of this is that if you dont have a software inventory done perfectly they will create havoc for your office – and will either force you to buy extra licences and pay legal fees. I came up clean after thousands in legal fees, but resolved to never be vulnerable again – and also avoid Microsoft wherever possible. Its not a mac tactic, just MS.

    Also – Foxit reader is faster and better to read PDF than adobe acrobat by far.

  25. Glenn Rogers November 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    On a completely unrelated topic but as there’s nowhere else to put it here goes –

    Fairfax have finally rebranded the Commercial Property section of the AGE Commercialrealestate.com.au

    I told them to do this 4 years ago and have re interated it to all those in Fairfax who have contacted me over the years, the most recent being a month or so ago.

    Better late then never.

  26. TomS November 23, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    ‘Realcommercial.com.au’ is a much better name. Or even better – ‘Realcommercial1.com.au’

  27. Glenn Rogers November 23, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    You’re kidding, you going to buy some realcommercial any time soon ?

    Yes you are kidding of course.

  28. Vic November 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Agree Glen,

    KISS principle. I want to buy some commercial real estate, not I want to buy some realcommercial (item’s, cars, advertising, stuff and the list goes on and google is confused)

  29. Marianne Robinson November 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Mmm, personally I’ve always thought the Google apps were pretty lightweight compared to what we’re used to with the Microsoft offerings. We’ve been looking at that stuff for a while. Exchange server is just too heavyweight for the smaller business but yet Outlook sharing is so important. We are now using Outlook add-ins for Outlook collaboration in-house.

    Still, if the Google apps provide what’s needed then that’s all you need. Somehow though the thought of all my data off-site and one failure point i.e my broadband connection, leaves me a little weak at the knees.

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