Switching from Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365, you will find good and bad surprises. But overall, Microsoft's Web apps make the migration worthwhile.
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I was a long-time customer of Google Apps for Business. I used it for larryseltzer.com, which I use for both business and personal reasons. Back when I switched from conventional hosting and POP/SMTP email to Google Apps, it was a great deal -- you could get all the basic features for free. This included Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sites and Google Docs, and it was all searchable using Google's top-notch engine.
A lot has changed since then. Google Apps has gotten better, although not markedly so. The competition, which is Microsoft, has not stood still. In fact, Microsoft's cloud product, Office 365, is clearly more powerful and sophisticated than Google Apps for business needs, especially large businesses.
Migrating my five users -- three real ones and a couple of test ones -- took about five days. The first day was consumed with standard and necessary things such as migrating DNS servers; the second involved working around an obscure bug I encountered. Most of the rest of the time was spent migrating email, contacts and calendars.
After leaving Google Apps, I learned a lot about what's possible with Office 2013, its Web apps in various browsers, and mobile support. Mobile is especially complicated. In the end, once I got past deciding which company was being more duplicitous, it became clear to me that Microsoft offers better mobile support than Google. Microsoft still has some big mobile support holes, but it does appear to be working on most of them.
Some people will disagree with me on this, but I think Google Sites is not a useful product, and compared to Microsoft's SharePoint it's so small as to be barely visible. The differences between Google Apps (formerly Google Docs) and Microsoft Office are not as great as they once were, but they're still substantial.
Am I glad I left Google Apps? Yes, even though I ran into some problems in migrating. I suspect no migration like this ever goes completely as planned. Read on to learn from all of my stumbles -- and happy discoveries.
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