Google launched another salvo against Microsoft last Thursday when it announced Google Apps Premier Edition, a subscription service that offers enterprise support for Google’s email, chat, word processing, spreadsheet, and web page creation tools. Wired has a short article that describes some of the pros and cons of the Google Apps package. Everyone knew this was coming, and the fact that Google has signed up some huge corporations gives them a little more credibility right off the bat.
So is this a good deal for a school district? There would have to be a significant discount over the current $50/user/year cost. I pay about $35 for a copy of Microsoft Office currently and that doesn’t expire after 12 months. I love the collaborative features of Google Docs, and I think it would meet the needs of our staff and students 99% of the time.
- We have to upgrade our district’s bandwidth anyway, but we would need a lot more to support extensive use of Google Apps. That would add even more to the cost.
- Would it be legal to store confidential information about students on Google’s servers?
- We’d need something to replace PowerPoint for teacher and student presentations. It wouldn’t break my heart to give up PowerPoint though.
- I’m not sure where I’d start trying to convince teachers that changing to a web-based office suite is a good idea.
I’ll be keeping my eyes open for news of educational pricing from Google.
Update: Within minutes of posting this I found a reference to Google Apps Education Edition. You can remove ads from Gmail for students, and they claim to support single sign-on. I’ll sign up and report back with a review.
Update again: It looks like the Education Edition is limited to post-secondary institutions. I tried to sign up and found that they require a .edu domain name.