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12/13/2013
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Microsoft Woos Gmail Users

Outlook.com introduces a Gmail migration tool to attract unhappy Google email users.

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In early 2010, Google tried to accelerate the growth of Google Apps by launching Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange, server software designed to help companies move data from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps.

That was several months after Google launched Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook to help Outlook users connect to Google Apps as a back end. That same year, it also debuted Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes and Connect for Blackberry Enterprise Server to make it easier for users of those systems to "Go Google."

On Wednesday, Microsoft returned the favor, adding another front in its broad counterattack on Google and on the threat ad-funded software poses to its business model. It introduced a service to simplify the process of importing Gmail messages into Outlook.com, the company's successor to its Hotmail service.

Both Microsoft Outlook and Google Gmail have more than 400 million users worldwide.

[Will Google advertisers love or hate this change? See Gmail Shows Images By Default.]

Naoto Sunagawa, a senior program manager lead at Microsoft, explains in a post that connecting a Gmail account to an Outlook.com account via OAuth requires only a few steps. "This will import your Gmail emails into your Outlook.com inbox and, because you've connected both accounts, your Google contacts will automatically appear in Outlook.com," he said.

Sunagawa suggested that Microsoft's reason for introducing a Gmail migration tool is "growing frustration with outdated email services," specifically Gmail, a conclusion supported by a ZDNet opinion column, "The Case Against Gmail." Sunagawa also cited an Ipsos poll indicating that almost a quarter of consumers would switch email providers if it were easier to do so and that 70% don't want ads interfering with their email experience.

Gmail's most contentious feature is its automated scanning of message text to serve ads, which Google would presumably argue enhances Gmail rather than interferes with it. Nonetheless, Microsoft has made much of what it characterizes as Google's intrusive behavior in its ongoing "Scroogled" ad campaign, which has attacked Google for paid inclusion in shopping search results, for scanning Gmail messages to serve ads, and to disparage Chromebooks. The company is even selling anti-Google merchandise on its website.

This is but a small part of a larger lobbying campaign in the US and Europe to convince lawmakers that Google holds an anticompetitive monopoly on search advertising that must be regulated. On Thursday, FairSearch Europe, a group composed of many Google competitors including Microsoft, announced that a study it commissioned concluded that Google's most recent proposal to settle European objections to its business practices is unlikely to restore competition in the search market.

Over the summer, FairSearch attacked Google over its distribution of Android, claiming that distributing Android for free is anticompetitive. At the time, Groklaw editor Pamela Jones said the FairSearch complaint represented "an attack against the Open Source development model itself." She characterized it as "part of a coordinated smear campaign against Google."

Nonetheless, Google almost certainly will be forced to make some changes to accommodate its critics. Late last month, the Dutch Data Protection Authority concluded that Google's practice of combining data from its various services violates the country's data protection law. It remains to be seen whether Google will bend so far that it disrupts its stride. Whatever the outcome, Microsoft appears to be ready to pick up the pieces.

Thomas Claburn is editor-at-large for InformationWeek. He has been writing about business and technology since 1996 for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. He is the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and his mobile game Blocfall Free is available for iOSAndroid, and Kindle Fire.

IT groups need data analytics software that's visual and accessible. Vendors are getting the message. Also in the State Of Analytics issue of InformationWeek: SAP CEO envisions a younger, greener, cloudier company (free registration required).

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J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2013 | 9:51:49 AM
Re: Re : Microsoft Woos Gmail Users
Sachin, that has been MS's model from the very beginning.  Have one great application and enough other "tolerable" applications in a suite so that it's not worth the learning curve or effort to use something else.  Over time MS has improved the apps, but Mail, PowerPoint and others were barely tolerable in the beginning.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2013 | 3:09:05 AM
Re : Microsoft Woos Gmail Users
It seems to me that people here are tempted to take the all-Google or all-Microsoft approach. It is important that we take different things separately. By advocating for, or going against, the whole portfolio of either company, we are supporting the corporate interests. Analyzing and assessing on a bit to bit basis would be more useful from users' point of view.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2013 | 3:06:42 AM
Re : Microsoft Woos Gmail Users
@ copperslaone,I agree that Outlook provides a seamless and much better experience now. Outlook program in Microsoft Office and Mail app in Windows 8 and 8.1 add to the convenience of email usage.Working with emails in Mail app is like dealing with some local text document. It's really that easy. In the end, as you said, it's about everyone's unique preferences.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2013 | 3:06:30 AM
Re : Microsoft Woos Gmail Users
@ Whoopty, you made a pertinent point and gave a valid comparison of the previous and current image of Google. Keeping the ethical side of Scroogled campaign aside, it has succeeded at least in raising questions about Google and pressing it against the wall. This campaign is certainly aided by some practices of Google such as scanning email contents which worked as extenuating circumstances.
AllenFalcon
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AllenFalcon,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 11:16:37 AM
Re: Mixing Apples and Oranges?
Where Meg Whitman is coming from?  More than 60% of knowledge workers use a device other than a PC or Laptop for work.  Android, iOS, and Chrome are now part of the business IT ecosystem.  Windows desktop and laptop sales continue to plummet (although not as quickly as some have predicted), and Microsoft has had multiple missteps with tablets and failures with smartphones.  It remains to be seen if Microsoft can find a formula for tablet success and if they can make Windows phones relevant with only one manufacturer (which they own) seriously on board.

 
anon1177325345
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anon1177325345,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 11:05:10 AM
Re: Mixing Apples and Oranges?
Meg Whitman, CEO of HP (Microsoft's largest OEM/Partner) noted the following in a Q&A session at CRN's Best of Breed Conference in October: " If you look at the shift in the share of operating systems over the last couple of years, the share shift has been dramatic, from almost a 100 percent Windows operating system [share] to probably 60 percent share of market for Windows. Android has come on very strong and Chrome is starting to get real traction. So our world has changed."

 

Not sure what she is coming from there, I'm assuming she is referencing mobile devices as laptops and desktops are approximately 95% WindowsOS.
Brian45242
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Brian45242,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/19/2013 | 3:22:00 PM
Re: Have you tried Outlook.com?
Yes, I have used Outlook.com for my personal e-mail for quite some time.  I have no issues with it and find it conveniently similar to the full client Outlook I use at work.  I do also have a gmail account, mostly because I had to in order to access the App store for my Android based phone.

 

At the end of the day, none of these large companies (or their products) are perfect and we (the consumers) make trade offs as to what functionality we need and what privacy or other things we're willing to give up in order to get that.  Been that way for as long as I can remember...and like the old expression goes, "there is no such thing as a free lunch" so if they're giving you free e-mail, they have to generate revenue from that in some way.
virsingh211
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virsingh211,
User Rank: Strategist
12/17/2013 | 3:43:20 AM
Re: Really?
I use both of them and definately Outlook keeps advantage over gmail, but cannot ignore Gmail wins over at cloud email, curious to see how they together work on single platform.
AllenFalcon
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AllenFalcon,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/15/2013 | 9:07:43 AM
Mixing Apples and Oranges?
Thomas,

I'm surprised you cannot more readily see through the Microsoft marketing machine and facade.

You start talking about Google Apps for Business with respect to migrating from Exchange and Notes. I'm sure you are smart enough to know that Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government do not include ads or any access content by Google that is not authorized (ie flagging something public, or publishing docs to web).  I'm also pretty sure you are aware that Google's terms of service, privacy policy, and SLA for their business applications reflect these facts.

You then jump to companies moving from Gmail, Googles free email service, to Outlook.com.  And, yes, while users agree to have systems scan emails for keywords so ads are hopefully relevent, you don't mention how Microsoft achieves the same result.  With Windows 8.1 and SmartSearch, Microsoft is scanning every file on your PC.  They are using your local searches to target Ad placement, along with your Internet search data.  Surprise!  Microsoft is targeting ads, too ... but just chooses to scan and use different user data.

When you refer to an isolaged blogger on ZDnet, you fail to mention that the author's career has been publishing books on MS Windows and Office (more than 25 in all).  You attempt to make a point by finding a singular blog from an openly biased author.  If you read his blog, you would have seen that he also mixed information about free versus business services and ignored the dozens of changes to the Gmail UI and services made over the base few years -- all based on user feedback.

And, you seem to have overlooked the outage problems that have plaqued Outlook.com since its launch.

Yes, Microsoft is wooing Gmail users because they need to, desparately.  Outlook.com has been plagued by outages.  With competition from Apple and Google, Microsoft's share of the K-12 and higher ed markets is plummeting.  

Meg Whitman, CEO of HP (Microsoft's largest OEM/Partner) noted the following in a Q&A session at CRN's Best of Breed Conference in October: " If you look at the shift in the share of operating systems over the last couple of years, the share shift has been dramatic, from almost a 100 percent Windows operating system [share] to probably 60 percent share of market for Windows. Android has come on very strong and Chrome is starting to get real traction. So our world has changed."

Microsoft is desparate.  Microsoft's Scroogled campaign is designed to confuse consumers and small businesses owners by misleading them about their competitors offerings and by creating fear about actions that Microsoft quietly does as well.  And, if you've tried to figure out the most affordable Microsoft's licensing solution for your business, you know that Microsoft is good at confusion.
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
12/14/2013 | 1:26:42 PM
Re: Really?
So the fact that the government's spying on us gives Google a pass?

 

That's what happens if you don't call out Google (and actually stop using them as far as you can).  Anything less is caving.
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