Google (News - Alert) recently decided to restrict free use of its Google Apps service to small businesses, charging a yearly fee for each user. The company said that this change was made because the basic version of its service just isn't enough to support a small business, which is a fair point. However, while this obviously will result in more revenue for Google, it may also result in more customers switching to Microsoft's (News - Alert) competing Office 365 suite.
This is even more likely since Microsoft has decided to extend its Office 365 Small Business free trial to a full 90 days from the regular 30 in response to Google's pricing change. This gives businesses not happy with the Google Apps price change an extended opportunity to check out Office 365 to see if it might be a better fit.
That said, this price change will not affect existing Google Apps for Business users, but new customers will have to pay $50 per user per year for the service as of January 2013. Google does still have the advantage in pricing as Office 365 Small Business costs $6 per user per month, or $72 per year, but the difference between $50 and $72 isn't much — at least not as much as the difference between $72 and free.
According to Chris Hertz, CEO for New Signature and Microsoft partner, this also allows potential customers to focus more on features than pricing. "This is an opportunity that levels the playing field for Microsoft partners," said Hertz.
Microsoft will keep this extended Office 365 trial offering, which is open to any organization with up to 10 users, active until the end of February 2013.
Meanwhile, for small businesses looking for the right productivity solution, SherWeb has an array of offerings specifically aimed at SMBs. In fact, its SkyOffice suite features Hosted Exchange 2010, Lync 2010 and SharePoint 2010 and is extremely flexible.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Jamie Epstein