Google Atmosphere or “Admosphere”?

Are you ad-opting a productivity vendor or advertising partner?

At Atmosphere today, Google will try to court CIOs. CIOs are a tough audience, and they should be.  They are looking for solutions to increase productivity, foster collaboration and take their organizations to the next level in an efficient and effective way. This is serious business.

So, as Google prepares to convince this audience that it cares about businesses as much as advertisers, we wanted to touch on some of the most frequent CIO questions we get asked. Microsoft has been working with CIO’s for a long time – including industry leaders such as Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Phillips and Starbucks, state and local governments such as the State of California, Minnesota, New York City and the City and County of San Francisco as well as schools and universities such as San Francisco State University, University of New Orleans and the University of Washington. We know that every organization has needs that are unique to their business, their industry and their employees.  CIO’s want to save money and deliver efficient solutions that will sustain their businesses while making their employees productive.  Their needs are complex and mission critical.  Given the complex nature of global businesses around the world, we have had the opportunity to answer CIO’s questions like the ones below for 20 years—how does Google answer them?

Do you have a proven track record?
Productivity and collaboration solutions are at the heart of what we do.  That simple fact gives us the incentive to continue investing and innovating in this area. It gives us the hunger to keep doing better, listening harder to CIOs—pushing ourselves harder than any competitor could. And most importantly, it gives us a reason to stay successful and invested in this business-today, tomorrow, and for decades to come. Jose Torres, CIO of Priox (Grupo Romero), said the Peru based company chose Microsoft for these very same reasons, “Google came from the world of ads and banners; we did not want to be their guinea pigs. This was a complex project, and we wanted to be certain.”

No CIO needs EVER to ask the question “Will Office be around or will it be jettisoned if it doesn’t do well?” Our business hinges on making the productivity experience successful. Grady Health Systems wanted a vendor invested in their business according Kevin Yearick, the Director of Network Services, “It was important to us that the relationship truly was a relationship, and not just a sale.“ They just didn’t get the same type of enterprise-level response from other vendors. Every CIO should ask- what drives Google’s interest in productivity? What is their incentive to stay in this business?  How much of their attention am I really getting? 

How much will it cost?
If you are a CIO looking to cut costs, ask yourself (and Google) - what’s in the small legal print? Why have some businesses been unable to fully deploy Google Apps?  Because retraining users on a new interface, accepting limited interoperability with other applications, and getting by with limited features is expensive.  It costs companies money and it costs employees valuable time. 

Minimizing disruption for their employees was one of the many reasons why Sound Transit chose Microsoft over Google according to IT Manager Garv Nayyar, “If we had to switch to Google, we would lose a lot of functionality with regard to calendaring, managing mailboxes, and scheduling appointments.” In the long run, the total cost of ownership for many "free" solutions is costly and time consuming. When Enterprise Architects took into account the extra services they had to adopt to fill the gaps in Google Apps, they moved to Microsoft for a more cost effective solution. Can your business afford this "unstated" cost?

What are your privacy policies?
Do a careful review of the company's privacy policy. Microsoft designs its solutions from the ground up for security and privacy and they are backed by two decades of meeting enterprise needs for secure, private solutions. More importantly, with advertising revenue (and therefore mining customer data) remaining central to Google’s business model, and leadership that until recently took pride in declaring comfort with getting “right up to the creepy line” around privacy. Every CIO needs to ask if that value system is consistent with your privacy needs.  Are you comfortable with every click in your business, every document, and every communication being in Google’s hands?  Are your customers and business partners?

What is your long term roadmap?
Organizations need to plan for the future without having to question a cloud provider's long term commitment to their business.  Despite the need for customers to understand their roadmap, Google and others often surprise their customers by unexpectedly removing important features - or adding new ones - which increases both headaches and cost. These unexpected changes often lead to more work.

Can you support all of my people with what they need?
Most businesses have a variety of people working in different roles.  Not all of them sit in Silicon Valley campuses with high-speed Internet.  What they do need is access to your business resources. For most businesses, the Google model simply doesn’t support the level of flexibility they require.  At Microsoft, we provide a variety of options for the different roles people play in your business. Your business does not exist in a one size fits all world - is your cloud provider one size?

Do you feel like you’re getting less than 1% of their energy? We understand you operate a business. Productivity solutions really do change the way a company works. Make sure the one you choose is working for you.


Comments (51)

  1. @James Pakele: Comments to this blog are not deleted. While posting as “anonymous” on this blog triggers auto-moderation for possible spam, you can see from the history of comments on past blogs that a full range of opinion is represented here.

    @Jerome, @Justin, @James Pakele, @Ales S.:  Microsoft’s online email offering relevant to CIO’s is Exchange Online in Office 365, different from free Hotmail for consumers. As Justin points out, Microsoft’s online email offering does not involve ads.  Google’s Gmail offered to businesses not only involves ads, it scans business users’ email to serve targeted ads to business users. See this post for the details:

    @Robbie: Some of our customers are moving from Google to Microsoft online services specifically for solid performance. This post describes several of the reasons:

    @Jim McNelis, @Daniel, @Dave: Today’s news cites how ongoing innovations make Windows everlasting, and cites the unprecedented success of Window 7 and Office 2010.

  2. @Robert Baker, @Daniel:  It’s great that you brought up ease of use and cost.  My colleague, Stephen, says it best in terms of Office 365: Quality Matters. ( .  From his post…

    Business owner, Karen Kotzen of Love My Lessons, coaches businesses in using productivity tools. : “I tried Google first, because it was free, but found that it wasn’t easy to use.”

    Quality and value are key drivers for customers switching from Google Docs to Office 365, such as  the 2-person non-profit D&L Representative Payee Services:

    “We’re accustomed to using Microsoft Office products and wanted to continue to use them, so the compatibility issues with Google Docs caused concern,” says Paul Lovette, Vice President and Executive Manager for the nonprofit. “We were always worried, for example, that our forms’ layouts would be skewed by whatever formats Google chose.”

    “What we get for a total of $12 a month is really priceless: instant availability, a robust suite of products, and the ability to synchronize documents between Office 365 and our workspaces,” says Lovette.

    Then there is Total Cost of Ownership. See how it rolls up in“ The Hidden Google Tax”. (

  3. @Daniel:  As a manager of a brokerage firm, you seem to fight as hard for the success of technologies you choose as a Googler would.

    I would love to learn how Microsoft can inspire just the kind of passion that you have as a customer.  Let us know how we can reach you.

  4. @Ian Ray:  As many people know, Hotmail is free, not a service offered to customers. I see from your link that Google users have the onus to learn how to turn off ads whereas Microsoft online services customers have no such concerns.

  5. @Daniel, @Robert Baker:  Thank you for the opportunity to bring you up to date on how our solutions work for our customers. In terms of both availability and innovation in Microsoft’s web-based applications, the C-suite values our unique capabilities. In fact, since Chris Pyle, President and CEO of Champion Solution Group was quoted here in July of 2010 ( ), Microsoft launched Office 365 in June of 2011 (

    “What concerned us most about Google was what we called their ‘roach motel’ approach to the cloud—once you go in, there’s no way out, if we installed Google Apps and trained everybody in how to use it, and then for some reason cloud computing wasn’t right for our business, we’d have nowhere to go; we’d have to start all over and retrain everybody. With the Microsoft solution, if we decided the cloud wasn’t meeting our changing needs, it would be easy to switch to on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft SharePoint Server without having to retrain our whole staff.”

  6. @ Evan: Here are a few updates since publishing this post. Office 365 has earned CRN’s Best Cloud Application of the year accolade ( Microsoft has driven forward on its cloud productivity roadmap in providing 30 new updates to the productivity service ( We have further detailed the Office 365 Trust Center, with transparency in areas such as compliance, security and privacy (

  7. chriswin says:

    Its about time msft start defending itself

  8. Chad says:

    With more of our employees switching to Macs, I'd love to know why we still experience errors when sending outgoing e-mail with Outlook 2011 via our BPOS exchange package with Microsoft. Shouldn't the client and server being working together like butter?  Same team.

  9. David Bullock says:

    I second the question about BPOS Exchange and Mac.  Our BPOS experience has been poor, and I'm on the verge of recommending that we move to Google Apps to get better support for our users iPhones and Mac Exchange clients.  The disruption and hours of our admin spent on the phone resolving these things is expensive.

  10. Garry Trinder says:

    Why then are you still developing Bing?

  11. Robbie says:

    The article is very plausible in the way it points out why Google´s motivation to be doing enterprise software is not very strong. On the other hand, the cost & feature argument does not hold when looking at SMBs. For most businesses Google´s enterprise application suite is just fine, rock solid and needs little maintenance. E.g. in our company we moved to Google Apps and I never experienced one glitch, never missed a feature and never lost a document. Privacy? Yep, that might bea biggie one day but so far Google has never been evil so i give them the benefit of the doubt. What is Google doing in enterprise software? World domination 🙂 ? No…they charge 50 USD per user per year. Since almost everybody on this planet uses office apps, that seems like a valid argument to become nr1 in this business. 500 millions users use MS Office, that´s a 2.5 billion USD opportunity!

  12. Jim McNelis says:

    Considering Google has a couple thousand employees dedicated to Google Enterprise, and the rapid adoption and success of Google Apps, I am certain you are making a moot point.  Google Apps is here to stay, Tony.  You know it better than most since they are taking customers from you daily.  Companies are increasingly asking themselves "Why Microsoft?" but not in the way your blog would suggest.  The question is really, "Why [do I need] Microsoft [anymore]?"  And it is a valid question Google has answered well.

  13. daniel says:

    If you can't innovate then criticise your competitors…/ballmer

  14. Jerome says:

    Cheap shots on ad dollars and privacy, you're in the search business too.

  15. Dave says:

    Blah, blah, blah… More of the same blathering from Microsoft. Too little, too late.  Face it Microsoft: you're the new GE. Big, cash-rich, and utterly irrelevant.

  16. justin says:

    It's amazing how many people here don't seem to understand that Microsoft's online offerings are as cheap as Google's yet do not involve ads.  Google is an advertising company, that is where its core revenue comes from…

  17. James Pakele says:


    Please show me the screen shot with ads in Google Docs?  You can't because they don't exist.  

    Google's offering is far superior to the MS offering here.  Where's the tagging with multiple labels in MS? Where is the drag and drop to organize items?  Where's the drag and drop to upload files? Google Docs load faster and perform faster as well.  

    The only place I see ads are in GMail, which are text based and load faster than the image/display ads that appear in HotMail…

    So please, do tell, where are these ads you speak of? The only places I see ads is where Microsoft also has ads… Oh and I just noticed, they opted in my FaceBook account to show up in their search… great, who said they could do that???

    *Yes I expect this comment to get censored like the last one I made… There's another place Google excels… Transparency, when Google messes up, they come out and say "We messed up", they also don't hide and delete critical comments…

  18. Ales S. says:

    I agree with James: this is Microsoft accusing Google of things they are guilty of themselves, to a much greater extent. Google's ads are far less intrusive than Microsoft's.

  19. daniel says:

    @tony tai – maybe the whole board needs to be replaced…  If Gates came back he would out Ballmer in a second but chooses to run his philanthropy instead and doesn't want to upset the status quo.  Did you read my link?  Do you realise that MSFT stock price is the same place it was 10 years ago?  I run a stockbroking firm and i am in the process of moving away from windows (to mac and ubuntu).  No i'm not a fan boy but a business and consumer user who is sick of the second rate and expensive products microsoft keeps pumping out.  O/S dominance no longer matters, most apps (at least most in my industry) are now web based.   Metro is promising but it's still got Windows underneath… IMO Microsoft needs to reinvent itself for the times instead of milking past success…

  20. Ian Ray says:

    @Tony Tai

    "Google’s Gmail offered to businesses not only involves ads, it scans business users’ email to serve targeted ads to business users. See this post for the details:"

    This is inaccurate. There are not targeted ads in the paid Google Apps for Business. The radio button does not exist in settings as it does in consumer Gmail.

  21. Robert Baker says:

    We switched to Google 2 years ago – it was simply easier and better – oh and less expensive.  It just works.

  22. Tony Tai says:

    @Ian Ray: Google Apps for business users may disable/enable ads (  while  Gmail  continues to be scanned.  According to Google: “If you have a Google Apps for Business or Education account, you have the option to disable/hide advertisements for users in your account.”… “To learn more about advertisements in Gmail, please visit the Gmail Help Center.” (

  23. Ian Ray says:

    @Tony Tai…/

    "Note that there is no ad-related scanning or processing in Google Apps for Education or Business with ads disabled"

    It is true that there are advertisements if they are explicitly left on in domain settings, but not that Gmail continues to be scanned with them off.

    I've used consumer gmail for years and hardly notice that these ads exist. If advertising is really a marketing pitch for Microsoft, why are the ads in Hotmail so intrusive?

  24. Ian Ray says:

    @Tony Tai

    Yes, Google Apps administrators have to learn how to use their own domain settings page.

  25. daniel says:

    @ Tony Tai so if  you don't like microsofts' cloud you can keep using it's expensive local apps, nice way out.  seriously.  Google actually does let you exit their products and hosts a page which shows you how to extract data which can be imported into just about any third party software.

    Your training argument is rubbish too, and I actually didn't need to train my staff they just picked it up, i come on how hard is it to use a word processor, spreadsheet or email client…

    I'm sticking with the ‘roach motel’, it's actually a nice place, perhaps you should pop in sometime.

  26. daniel says:

    @Tony Tai are you a robot?  I'm telling you i am using google apps and it's simple to use.  Stop quoting people i don't know telling me things are not are not right.  

  27. Dneptune says:

    @ DANIEL: Contact me if you are serious about Going Google, I have a an excellent change management plan and cost saving plan for you!.

  28. ju says:

    @toni nai : I'm surprised we did not reach the Godwin point here.

  29. evan says:

    Forgot one note. If you're tired of crappy biased market puke like this article and you have a google account you can block all entries from technet from showing up in the search results under

    Good bye technet. You used to be a good resource for Microsoft related information. Now you just peddle FUD and marketing propaganda.  

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