On Thursday, Google expanded its free software suite, called Google Apps, to the enterprise market, allowing users to collaborate on documents, calendars or presentations with co-workers and friends.
The new Google Apps Team Edition adds teamwork features to the online software suite, which initially allowed users to share documents only with other individual users, but lacked some group management features required by businesses.
With Team Edition, groups of individuals at school or work can just as easily get the benefits of Google Apps by simply signing up online, said Dave Girouard, Google's VP and general manager of enterprise.
Team Edition contains the core communication and collaboration applications, like the word processor, spreadsheet, Start page, Talk instant messaging and calendar, but not Gmail, which requires IT participation to re-route the company's e-mail flow.
Google Apps Team Edition security features remain simple, but the company said it is moving quickly to add more features. It currently has no central administrator, for instance, allowing document creators to specify who can see any particular document.
Google's said Google Apps Team Edition can be upgraded to versions that can be controlled by central administrators. Like the Education edition, the new version of Apps can be upgrade for $50 per user per year to include a centrally controlled administered, Google said.
The new application still lacks many features for designing, prioritizing and controlling changes that different users make in any document.
Content management software programs such as Microsoft SharePoint offer such features, but Google execs say similar features are in development.
Analysts said Google Apps for teams is a promising start to an increasingly aggressive Web-based collaboration strategy to compete against traditional software models.
Microsoft has launched its own online collaboration effort, dubbed Office Live Spaces, which allows users to share documents created in Microsoft's Office Suite online.