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Google introduces business software for government

July 26, 2010 | 12:16 pm

Competition with Microsoft Corp. in the lucrative market of selling e-mail and other software kicked up another notch Monday when Google Inc. announced it was introducing a new version of its applications for government.

The two technology giants already compete for private business as well as for contracts with state and local governments.

Google said it had been certified by the federal government to offer software known as Google Apps for sensitive but not classified information. Google’s Matthew Glotzbach said that represented as much as 90% of all government information. The information will be stored on servers in the United States.

Among the applications available on Google Apps for Government are word processing and spreadsheets. Dave Girouard, Google’s president of enterprise, said the market represents a significant opportunity for Google. The federal government spends $76 billion on technology.

Berkeley Labs, part of the Department of Energy, started using Google Apps earlier this year. More than 4,000 employees and 1,000 research partners are using Google Docs & Sites to collaborate, and 4,000 are using Google Mail. Larimer County in Colorado has also started using Google Apps for Government.

Microsoft this year also introduced software geared toward government that is hosted at special facilities, where it takes a number of security precautions and restricts access.

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt called the business software space an “open field” as organizations consider Web-based software to cut costs. Google offers a free version of Google Apps for personal use but charges businesses $50 per user a year.

Google executives also downplayed reports of delays in the migration of the city of Los Angeles to Google Apps, calling the "minor issues" overblown. The software which has hit what the company called “speed bumps,” has been deployed to more than 10,000 users, Google said. Google missed a June deadline for the implementation.

Last year Google beat out Microsoft for a five-year contract to provide services to Los Angeles. The project is behind schedule and the city’s Police Department has expressed qualms about the security of the Web-based software.

-- Jessica Guynn