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Google swipes at Office 365 ahead of its release

Just ahead of Microsoft officially launching Office 365 today, Google chimes in with its own reasons on why people should choose Google Apps instead.

Microsoft's Office 365
Microsoft's Office 365 Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Google took a few swings at Microsoft's Office 365 yesterday as the product gears up for its official launch today.

In an official Google blog, Shan Sinha, Google Apps product manager, touted several reasons from his perspective on why customers should opt for Google Apps over the new Office 365. Though he claimed to have 365 reasons in total, Sinha focused on just a few key points, flavored with a couple of quotes from seemingly satisfied Google Apps customers.

Sinha's first claim is that Office 365 is for individuals, while Google Apps is for teams, meaning that Google Apps lends itself better to sharing and collaboration among multiple users. Here, Sinha seems to be comparing Office Web apps directly with Google Docs, which doesn't tell the full story. Office 365 does offer collaboration and sharing in the form of SharePoint. But Sinha did chime in on the topic of SharePoint, according to an interview with the Register, calling it "complicated" and "clunky."

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Another claim made by Sinha is that Office 365 is optimized for Windows PCs and devices, while Google Apps is designed to be used on any device from anywhere. Here Sinha may be on more solid ground. Since Office 365 is cloud-based, it can be accessed from just about any device, but the experience seems likely to vary based on the device. A hands-on look at Office 365 by PC World says that Office 365 is mobile but just not mobile enough.

Sinha also compares the different plans and pricing between Google Apps and its rival, complaining that Office 365 is packaged as 11 different plans, three editions, and two tiers, while Google Apps simply costs $5 a month. Microsoft is gearing Office 365 for different customers, from small businesses to larger enterprises, and so has set up multiple package options that on the surface do seem complex.

Finally, Sinha touts Google's experience running a cloud-based operation, compared with Microsoft, which has typically been focused more on the desktop. Of course, Office 365 is hardly Microsoft's first foray into the cloud, but it is a major new step.

"You can't just take legacy, desktop software, move some of it to a data center and call it 'cloud,'" Sinha said in his blog.

Though Sinha took liberties with a few of his claims, Office 365 does face strong competition from Google Apps in terms of features and functionality.

CNET reporter Josh Lowensohn took Office 365 for a spin last November to check out the service's pros and cons. Though he found that everything worked as advertised, he concluded that "Google Apps this is not."

An invitation to Microsoft to respond to some of Google's claims was not immediately returned.