Google Apps scored a major victory when the U.S. Department of the Interior chose to use Google's office suite rather than the usual software from Microsoft.
The contract, valued at $34.9 million over the next seven years, will affect more than 90,000 employees, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's kind of a coup for Google because in 2010, Google sued the department for allegedly favoring Microsoft when it gave the Redmond, Wash. company a five-year $59.3 million contract. (Google later dropped the suit.)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new, cost-cutting contract "good government." He also said shifting to a cloud-based e-mail system will bring the department into the modern era.
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"We're honored that the Department of the Interior has selected Google Apps for Government, and we look forward to working closely with the DOI to give employees new communication tools," a spokesman for Google said..
Google Apps includes a suite of Google products including Gmail and Google Docs, which competes directly with Microsoft's Outlook and Word applications. Businesses pay a fee of $50 per year for each user Google Apps account versus an average of $13 per user account per month with Microsoft.
Although a small part of Google's business, it seems that Google is gunning for Microsoft -- notably its Office 365, a cloud-version of its office suite accessed from the Web. So far, Google Apps' bargain price in a tough economy is helping the Internet titan, but it's unclear if users find it a better suite of products. However, if Google Apps continues to make inroads into government agencies it can easily become the first-choice software for federal offices everywhere.