Google Apps scored a major victory when the U.S. Department of the Interior chose to use Google's office suite rather than the usual software from Microsoft.
The contract, valued at $34.9 million over the next seven years, will affect more than 90,000 employees, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's kind of a coup for Google because in 2010, Google sued the department for allegedly favoring Microsoft when it gave the Redmond, Wash. company a five-year $59.3 million contract. (Google later dropped the suit.)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new, cost-cutting contract "good government." He also said shifting to a cloud-based e-mail system will bring the department into the modern era.
"We're honored that the Department of the Interior has selected Google Apps for Government, and we look forward to working closely with the DOI to give employees new communication tools," a spokesman for Google said..
Google Apps includes a suite of Google products including Gmail and Google Docs, which competes directly with Microsoft's Outlook and Word applications. Businesses pay a fee of $50 per year for each user Google Apps account versus an average of $13 per user account per month with Microsoft.
Although a small part of Google's business, it seems that Google is gunning for Microsoft -- notably its Office 365, a cloud-version of its office suite accessed from the Web. So far, Google Apps' bargain price in a tough economy is helping the Internet titan, but it's unclear if users find it a better suite of products. However, if Google Apps continues to make inroads into government agencies it can easily become the first-choice software for federal offices everywhere.