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Google enlists Microsoft VoIP partner to unseat Office 365+Skype

RingCentral in the middle

Google's going after Office 365 and Skype users in a cloud telephony partnership with Microsoft VoIP ally RingCentral.

The search giant and RingCentral on Wednesday announced RingCentral Office Google Edition, a package letting you make online calls from within Google's Apps.

Apps are integrated using WebRTC, the real-time communications protocol from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

RingCentral Office Google Edition packages Google Gmail, Docs, Chrome, Android and Hangouts – with unlimited Google storage also thrown in on Drive. The bundle is priced at $30 a month, but existing Google customers get it for $20. UK service and pricing are promised "soon."

According to RingCentral, you'll get "richer and more robust enterprise communications" compared to Office 365 and Skype for Business.

With that in mind, RingCentral – who specializes in VoIP-based PBXs, calls and related services – counts Microsoft an Office 365 partner. RingCentral adds PSTN calling, SMS, online meetings and conferencing for the online edition of Microsoft's collaboration and productivity suite.

The Googly package will be sold initially by Google for Work partner, Agosto. It's Google's latest push to drive its cloud into business. The search giant is generally regarded as an extreme laggard in cloud platform, a spec in the rear-view mirror of not just Amazon but also Microsoft on platform-as-a-service.

Google last year named ex-VMware boss Diane Greene as head of its cloud, spanning platform, apps and Google for Work.

But it's not just Google's platform that's in trouble. It's slipping on those once-famed apps-as-services.

Google redefined free email services with Gmail in 2004, putting Microsoft's Hotmail on the back foot. Google Docs was the sucker punch to Microsoft, landing free, online equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the kisser of Microsoft's Office in 2006.

Microsoft was flat-footed and confused in devising its webbified response to Google Docs and Apps.

But here we are, a decade later, and Google's losing the online collaboration war. Microsoft is now happily stuffing Office 365 plus a popular VoIP service in the shape of Skype into businesses via enterprise sales deals.

It's made a mockery of the once-hot idea of the consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own X, where it's grass-roots employees who dictate what's used in the office and therefore drove adoption of Google Docs inside employers.

The result is Google losing market share to Microsoft. Sixty-one per cent of organizations have existing or planned Office 365 deployments, SaaS security specialist Bitglass reckoned in June. That's compared to 45 per cent last year.

Deployments of Google Apps, meanwhile, are down – from 29 per cent in 2015 to 26 per cent this year. Bitglass' data is based on responses from 2,200 cyber security professionals.

One Microsoft ISV, working on Office 365, told The Reg he reckoned one reason Google is losing out is because of the sheer dominance of Office on PCs in business.

That dominance breeds cultural hurdles to Going Google Apps, and technical issues in terms of ease of importing documents and data from Office. ®

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