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Microsoft Office 365 services stand in the way of Google's business push

Google has been working to appeal more to businesses, but it may not be able to crack Microsoft’s armor.

Google has improved its G Suite enterprise apps over the past two years and in May added more IT management controls for its popular Chrome browser with the release of the Enterprise Bundle. G Suite offers cloud-based applications including Google Calendar, Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Hangouts, Meet and more. The company continues to add enterprise security and management features, such as new phishing protections earlier this year, but Microsoft Office 365 services still dominate the market.

Customers of HillSouth, a Microsoft and Google partner in Florence, S.C., for instance, have expressed no interest in moving to G Suite, founder and CEO Robby Hill said. That’s typically because IT shops already support on-premises Microsoft Office.

“Much of the [customers] who are leaving on-premises systems are going to Microsoft Office 365 since it is a like-for-like migration for most companies,” Hill said.

Microsoft is the entrenched leader in the industry when it comes to business applications, and it isn’t going to stand still, said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Austin, Texas-based research firm, Moor Insights & Strategy. For example, the company updated its support for multifactor authentication (MFA) this year to allow Azure Active Directory to connect to other Microsoft Office 365 services — including Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business — that have MFA-enabled accounts.

“G Suite faces intense, unrelenting competition against Office 365,” Moorhead said.

Still, Google continues to build its business play. The new Chrome Enterprise Bundle gives IT professionals more management capabilities over users browsing the web, while also allowing employees to use legacy web applications through Chrome — something they can’t do on Microsoft’s Edge browser that’s built into Windows 10.

“This release is a sign of things to come,” said Jack Narcotta, industry analyst at Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H. “Google has larger ambitions in the enterprise. I think there are more pieces of the Google ecosystem in the works around security and manageability, so we’ll see what the next extension is.”