Google recently unveiled it will take on Microsoft Office by allowing resellers to sell, customize and support premium versions of its Google Apps office suite:
Web search leader Google Inc (GOOG.O) took another step on Wednesday towards direct competition with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) by recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients.
From the end of March, authorized resellers will be able to sell, customize and support premium versions of Google Apps, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and email.
Google Apps is broadly similar to Microsoft's top-selling Office package except that Apps is completely Web-based and is part of Google's push into so called 'cloud computing' or software-as-a-service. Microsoft said in October it is also looking at adding Web-based features for its Office applications.
Since it launched Google Apps in February 2007, Google has only sold directly to business users over the Web. Analysts said the move to work with third parties is necessary if Google hopes to compete seriously with Microsoft or IBM (IBM.N).