Why are businesses dumping Microsoft Outlook and moving to Gmail?

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Cross-posted from The Kimbley IT Blog

For many years Microsoft Outlook has ruled the corporate roost when it comes to business email software. But the surge in uptake of Google Apps for Work seems to have turned the tide as more organisations are dumping Outlook in favour of Gmail.

What is driving this change?

Gmail offers any time, any place, any device email access – easily

Gmail is web based, so you need nothing more than a web browser (preferably Google Chrome) to get started. More importantly, Gmail can be accessed on any device from anywhere in the world, delivering a consistent experience across each.

Outlook can of course be configured to provide similar remote access capability, but that is also the biggest problem – you need to configure it, potentially increasing security risks in the process. With Gmail, all configuration and security is implemented by Google before being customised to your specific needs by your Google Partner, minimising your risk of losing or exposing corporate data.

Gmail is under constant improvement

Incremental updates are being applied to Gmail on a regular basis, giving you access to new features without a needing a total redesign. When new features and functions are developed, they are released to you at no additional cost.

As one of Microsoft’s flagship products, Outlook is also under continual development. Unlike Gmail however, upgrades are neither free, nor incremental. Every few years a new version is released (2007, 2010, 2013), often with major functional changes that incur additional costs for retraining staff – as well as the need to purchase a new license and then wait for the installation to complete.

Gmail offers better email management

In order to tame the inbox, you need a way to group email so that it can be easily located when required. Outlook’s answer to this problem is to use folders – simply drag the mail into the relevant folder. With Gmail you ‘label’ the message based on project/subject or any other criteria of your choice.

Although similar in concept, the difference is that email can only exist in one Outlook folder at a time. Gmail allows multiple labels to be applied to a single message, making it easier to categorise a message several times. Because in the real world, some messages belong in many categories simultaneously.

Gmail makes better use of file attachments

The simplicity of email means that it has now become the file transfer method of choice. Got a document you need to share? Stick it in an email. A video you think your colleagues need to see? Same again.

With Outlook, all of these attachments are stored in your mailbox which quickly grows in size. And as the mailbox grows, performance degrades, so you will be forced to archive emails. This makes management of email and files more complex – particularly as they are no longer easily available.

Gmail handles attachments differently. Every attached file is saved to your account’s associated Google Drive Cloud storage. This separation of message and file ensures that you never experience a drop in performance. All links between emails and attachments are maintained, so files are always available when you need them.

Even more importantly, Gmail allows you to send email attachments up to 5TB in size – an unthinkable size for Outlook to handle.

There’s still more to come

Ultimately Outlook is built using old technology and approaches to email. Gmail is designed around modern Cloud services that allow you access to vast computing power for a small annual subscription. More importantly, Google continues to innovate and improve email management – take for instance the imminent release of the new intelligent (and free) Inbox for Gmail designed to help automatically manage your email inbox so only the most relevant and important emails grab your attention while leaving the rest for later.

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