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I Love GHS

GHS - Google Hosted Services, has made it a 1 hour affair to setup an SME's IT systems - including email, team collaboration site, online document server and office applications for word-processing and spread-sheets. I haven't been so impressed with software tools in a long time!

You can get the full feature list and the marketing pitch from http://apps.google.com. But just to quickly recap the features:
  • Google's cutting edge email client used for gmail.com is now available for your company email at a web-address like http://mail.mycompany.com
  • Web-based, globally accessible calendar tool available at http://calendar.mycompany.com
  • Collaboration word-processing and spread-sheet documents at http://docs.mycompany.com
2GB of space is available for free per user, and 10GB for $50 per annum.

Micro$oft has apparently been making similar offers.

And the trend is clear!

I predict lots of SME's will start to migrate from desktop based MS-Office docs which have to be hauled up and down by email and there is no concept of collaboration incorporated. I guess M$ will make some counter offer to combine Office-Live subscription with MS-Office licenses. But I wonder if they can make it as easy and painless as Google has. Microsoft's records as a low-quality vendor suggest otherwise - they take time to get products right.

Added to the giants like M$ and Google, we should expect a number of smaller software vendors that will offer ditto services to smaller and local sub-markets. This is being termed Software as a Service (SaaS) - and we are just witnessing the most popular software programs - word processors, email, spreadsheets etc, adapting into this model now.

One thing that is yet to appear on Google's suite of GHS is a project management tool that helps people come together on projects world-wide. I predict this will be launched shortly; especially since there are reports that M$ has opened up their SharePoint suite to go "Live".

Any which way these players play the game, we are in for a new era in software consumption. Look to tools that are powered centrally - either on global services like GHS, or on corporate data-center based software accessible on the humble web-browser. This should mean lots of savings for both private consumers as well as SME's, leaving a good amount of "software-money" back in our pockets - no more license fees to monopolists.

Add to that the ever-maturing Linux desktops (which at the time of this post are just about ready to go 3-D) and heck you have a fully functional computer at cost of hardware and not a penny paid in software licenses before you start to actually be productive with it!

PS: At the time of this writing, I am using a Kubuntu 6.11 on my Dell X-300 laptop, with OpenOffice and spend a lot of time on GHS for calendaring, email and docs. On one partition I do have Win-XP (with no MS-Office). I use the Win-XP partition for programs that are currently available in Window-only versions (and eagerly await the day when Wine can play those Windows apps on Linux :).

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