New Google tool targets Microsoft business users

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Google Inc introduced software to make it easier for businesses using Microsoft Corp's Outlook to switch to its Web-based communications and collaboration products.

The Internet company said on Tuesday that its new software can easily transfer data from a Microsoft Exchange server to Google's cloud-based online service.

The new product allows business users to continue using the Outlook client for email and other tasks, but the back-end functionality and data storage would move to Google, instead of residing on a company's internal servers running Microsoft software.

The product, Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, will be available immediately as part of the existing Premier version of Google apps, which costs $50 per business user but is also available to educational and nonprofit customers for free.

Google product manager Chris Vander Way said the new product does not signal that Google is backing away from efforts to convince businesses to use its Web-based email, dubbed Gmail.

We look at this as a way to provide choice for users who like to do things the old, Outlook way, said Vander Way.

The company said it currently has 1.75 million business users, including Genentech and Avago. Dave Girouard, president of Google's enterprise business, would not break down how many of those customers use the fee-based version of Google apps and how many use the free, ad-supported versions.

Girouard said the enterprise apps business generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue a year and is profitable and growing.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Gary Hill)

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