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5/6/2008
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District Of Columbia Tests Google Apps

Google has "donated" 1,000 user licenses for Google Apps, Premier Edition, to the District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer, according to the city.

Yahoo isn't the only one looking for a non-Microsoft alternative. The District of Columbia appears to be testing out Google Apps desktop software, according to an official disclosure notice.

Google has "donated" 1,000 user licenses for Google Apps, Premier Edition, to the District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer, according to the disclosure filed by D.C.'s Office of Partnerships and Grants.

The licenses, which expire at the end of April, are "for the purpose of software trial and evaluation," according to the filing. The document covers the second quarter for fiscal 2008 and lists goods and services provided free of charge to D.C. government agencies during that period.

It says the licenses are valued at $9,375.

Google is pitching Google Apps as a cheaper alternative to Microsoft's Office products. In addition to the word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications included in the free, standard version of Google Apps, the Premier Edition adds administrator and security tools designed for business and government settings.

Faced with increasing budget pressures and more demands for e-services, a number of government agencies are looking at Google Apps as an alternative to Microsoft's pricey Office suite. Last year, Federal Aviation Administration CIO Dave Bowen told InformationWeek that his agency was evaluating Google Apps.

Google charges a flat fee of $50 per user, per year, for Google Apps Premier Edition, which it hosts online. By contrast, a single license for the Professional version of Office 2007 sells for $399 -- though Microsoft provides undisclosed bulk discounts to large customers.

Google Apps is but one of a number of emerging threats to Microsoft's dominance of the desktop software market. IBM recently rolled out its Lotus Symphony suite -- a free collection of open source productivity tools that, like Google Apps, includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.

More than 100,000 users have downloaded Lotus Symphony since it debuted last year, according to IBM.

Editor's Note: This story was edited May 8 to correct the price Google charges for Google Apps.

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