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Five million students going back to school are "going Google"

My girlfriend recently went back to college (MCC) to finish her degree. She is taking a number of liberal arts classes and a business class. A part of business class curriculum is to learn a modern operating system. In order to fulfill this requirement, MCC uses Windows Vista and MS Office. Currently, she has a MacBook. So she comes back home, telling me that she needs to spend $$$ on Vista and Office to do her homework. My natural question was: 'What about Google Apps?'

Getting another computer for us right now is not an option, just as spending money and effort on installing Vista on a Mac. So why can't students learn about computers using their favorite OS and use Google Apps to learn about Office?

Finally it is great to hear that colleges are starting to catch up with online resources. Wondering how long it will take for MCC to get on the online bandwagon..

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/five-million-students-going-...

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I'm all about Google Apps. Google Docs is just awesome for writers who want to keep old versions of their files online. I find myself revising stuff constantly and going back to pull older versions to see how the doc has evolved.
I certainly sympathize with you that their requirements are silly.

However, as much as I like Google Apps (and I've been preaching them for at least a year and a half), if you're working in an office with a bunch of people using MS Office, you basically can't use them unless you're using the bare minimum of functionality. We've tried using both Google Docs and OpenOffice at Concentris (where I work) for proposals,etc, and when you load the documents into Word, what you end up with looks like utter crap. It's not presentable. Virtual Box + Windows XP license + MS Office license is how we solved the problem for the linux users.

In conclusion, I wish you luck in finding a cheap solution to your problem. I'm thinking Boot Camp + ebay might be in your future.

Good luck,
Nate
Yeah, there is only so much one can do with Google Apps at the moment, especially when trying to convert their 'doc' format into MS Office or other. Even making docs in OpenOffice and then converting them into Word did not work very well. Compatibility aspect is still very far from being polished out, unfortunately.. a trend that is also being observed with other MS products, such as IE vs. other browsers. Wishing some day there was a simple solution to document formatting problems we are experiencing today. In the meantime, Microsoft is surely capitalizing on this opportunity.. Anyway, for now, she'll probably be doing her homework at school, where there are Vista machines available.

Still good to hear that Google Apps is being slowly adopted by colleges. I think it is already packing enough functionality to be an excellent starting point for anyone learning about Office applications. I would love to see her using the free online office version, without having to deal with XP, MS, BootCamp, etc..and spending lots of $$ on it.
To be honest, I think the Business Curriculum is spot on: most businesses revolve around Microsoft's Office products, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Equally alarming to me is the fact that people still prefer older MS Office, rather than Office 2007 with its fancy ribbons.

Microsoft made a huge mistake in changing the GUI, forcing people out of their comfort zones. Office for Mac has a similar problem in that Office for Mac doesn't "look and feel" like Office for Windows. I'd imagine Macs would have a higher adoption rate in the Business space if Office for Mac was an equivalent user experience to Office for Windows.

As far as FOSS goes... yeah, it's just as bad. I love Fedora Linux, but creating business documents in OpenOffice usually ends up as a fruitless waste of a few hours, producing a sad-looking document. Even after years of griping, OpenOffice still doesn't have the Navigation (Outline) View. For me, that's an MS-Word feature so essential in the way I create Technical Documentation that I'm still dual-booting into Windows to use it, as well as to access to MS Word's enhanced formatting capabilities. Google Apps still needs time to mature a bit to incorporate such compelling features before it'd be a real challenger to MS Office.

At the end of the day, Business Documents are all about creating pretty, eye-catching documents that are hopefully easy to read and digest. I'd swear I landed some surprisingly sweet gigs just because my Proposals looked better (visually) than the competition's. :-D
I think Google docs will eventually be the de facto standard for most office documentation, especially simple documentation and spreadsheets. The versioning and real-time collaboration features are extremely compelling. Microsoft's online offerings are basically just thick clients with web sharing. To really compete they need a lightweight Silverlight based version of office, and I haven't heard of anything like this in the works. By the time they get started, Google docs will be very mature. Another problem for Microsoft is that they have much longer iteration cycles, not to mention the fact that no one does web apps as well as Google.

Smart schools are moving to Google docs, while still teaching MS Office to help students hit the ground running in the current office environment. Less sophisticated schools are resisting the move, suffering under the illusion that buying site licenses for MS Office and hosting everything internally is safer and cheaper.

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