Can Google and Linux Topple Microsoft?

Compatibility issues always exist with any new release of an operating system, said Steve Gillmer, Microsoft's business manager of collaborative technologies. He added that Microsoft works with software developers to reduce incompatibilities and with customers to manage the movement to new operating systems.

The story had a certain flair. In early March, the chief information officer of the Federal Aviation Administration, David Bowen, was reportedly considering forsaking Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of the Linux operating system and the Web-based Google Apps Premium office suite.

Could this be true? Might an office suite upstart topple the giant of giants? Does a Web-based suite of applications have enough punch to do the job?

Perhaps. Google Apps Premium does offer a strong set of collaborative word-processing and spreadsheet tools, in addition to e-mail and calendar capabilities. "We built the [applications] from the ground up to focus on collaboration," said Mike Bradshaw, who leads Google's federal enterprise division. "They're providing a new type of functionality to the space that people have been looking for."



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