Google Apps gets serious about moving data from Microsoft Outlook

Google unveils Microsoft Outlook migration tool

Google has taken various approaches to marketing Google Apps to current users of Microsoft Office products. Google often touts its cloud-based email and collaboration service as a full replacement of Microsoft, while at other times telling customers that it can simply enhance current Microsoft deployments.

But this week Google got a little more serious about convincing customers to migrate fully from Microsoft to Google. On Wednesday, the company unveiled "Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook", which creates a three-step process that "moves email, calendar and contact data from Outlook profiles, PST files and Exchange accounts to Google Apps."

The migration tool can move thousands of emails, calendar events and contacts in a single hour, Google boasts, and of course is available at no charge to customers that have subscribed to the $50 per user per year Google Apps business edition.

The migration tool currently works with Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007, both for the packaged software version of Microsoft and the hosted version of Exchange, and can move older PST files saved on users' machines. 

I assume that Google will eventually make the migration tool compatible with the just-released 2010 versions of Office, but since most IT shops are still on previous editions this should be sufficient for the time being. Google is also working on improving the compatibility of Microsoft Word and Excel documents with Google Docs, to ensure that files don't lose any formatting when moving from Microsoft products to the Google cloud.

The migration tool, of course, doesn't address the fact that Google Apps still lack much of the functionality present in the more expensive Microsoft Office. Google enterprise product chief Matthew Glotzbach noted in a recent blog post that "By no means do we think that Google could possibly develop all the functionality that any employee might need," but in the meantime the company is making a pretty strong sales pitch. 

What do you think about Google's latest pitch to Microsoft customers?

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