Yes, Google is encroaching into Microsoft’s traditional business space in a vicious productivity fight. But Google's rebranding of its Enterprise Business as Google for Work yesterday seems to be a tacit acceptance — for the moment, at least — that Microsoft is the Enterprise Daddy.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has responded to Google's blows with a number of financial incentives that must have many Chief Financial Officers salivating over their ledgers.

Microsoft’s Incentives

Let's leave aside the other players in the market — and the fact it's going to be a real hoot to see how Box’s Office 365 announcement will fit here. It's fair to say that over the past few months, Microsoft has been adding to Office 365. Ok, it doesn’t happen as often as Google Apps updates, which are now coming faster than rush-hour commuter trains, but when Microsoft makes a move, everyone pays attention.

With all of them, there is a common theme: if you buy into Microsoft, you save money.

To know whether the reality corresponds with Microsoft’s marketing guff, you’d really have to ask the CEO or CFO of one of the Fortune 500 companies that use both Google and Microsoft. But let's just take Microsoft’s word for the moment.

Last night’s announcement from the Office 365 team around FastTrack is typical of the initiatives that Microsoft is using to beat Google back.

Free FastTrack Office 365 Deployments

FastTrack was introduced last year and pulls together all the Office 365 onboarding methodology, tools and process to streamline deployments. Microsoft claims that FastTrack has helped thousands of customers, together with their partners, move to Office 365. It also maintains that providing support directly from the Office 365 Service team during the critical phases of on-boarding can shorten deployment times. More importantly, it resulted in the creation of the FastTrack Onboarding Center

Last night, Microsoft announced it is providing free access to FastTrack to those that buy 150 or more seats of a qualified license service, which in turn will support the provisioning and configuration of Office 365 workloads including Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Office 365 Pro Plus and Yammer.

Basically, you pick up the phone, say what you want and Microsoft will set it up for free. You can do this whether you speak English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, Portuguese or Spanish.

The new offer, which has just come into place, will be available until the end of next March, so there is plenty of time to plan and take advantage of the offer. Those that decide to go with it have a choice of either:

  • Taking money from Microsoft to pay a preferred Office 365 Cloud Deployment Partner or Cloud Productivity Competency partner to do it for you
  • Microsoft will work with you to remotely migrate all of your purchased mailboxes from the following environments: Exchange Server 2003 or above,Lotus Domino 7.0.3 or above, Google Gmail, IMAP accessible environnements

This is a pretty significant offer, not least because it also takes a lot of the pain out of developing a migration strategy

Office for iPad On Demand - Almost

This is just one example of how Microsoft is appealing to enterprise pockets. But there was another example this week. Who can forget the circus that accompanied the release of Office for iPad earlier this year?