Microsoft business suite wins federal certification

The software giant, which alleged that Google's rival technology lacked the federal accreditation, gets FISMA-certification for its Business Productivity Online Services-Federal product.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
2 min read

Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services-Federal product just won certification from the federal government under the Federal Information Security Management Act, a bit of news that would have meant nothing to more than a handful of folks who follow the arcana of such things just a few weeks ago.

But earlier this month, Microsoft called out rival Google for allegedly misleading customers about the FISMA certification of its competing Google Apps for Government service. Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, David Howard, said that Google's Web-based productivity suite for government clients didn't have FISMA certification, even though Google had said it did.

Google denied the charges, saying the technology platform of the product, Google Apps Premier Edition, is certified. According to Google, the government determined that the name change to Google Apps for Government, and increased security Google baked into that product, could be incorporated into the existing FISMA certification.

And Google went on to point out that, despite Microsoft's protestations, Business Productivity Online Services-Federal lacked its own FISMA certification. The backdrop for the battle is a lawsuit filed by Google over the Interior Department's decision to award Microsoft a contract to provide Web-based e-mail, business that Google would like for itself.

Microsoft's announcement that the Business Productivity Online Services-Federal received FISMA certification isn't likely to alter the landscape in the ongoing battle with Google. But the certification does open doors for Microsoft to win contracts with federal agencies, which make purchasing decisions, in part, based on the security accreditation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the certification and intends to migrate 120,000 employees to the Microsoft technology.