If you love Microsoft Outlook but want to try out Google Apps for Business, the best way to go is use the free Outlook Sync application that Google supplies. It lets you continue using Outlook but syncs your email, calendar, and notes with the Google servers.
It’s the perfect way to smoothly transition using Gmail to replace Outlook without having to go cold turkey. Let me give you my own story as an example:
Several years ago I considered myself a “hard core” Outlook user. I would never imagined that I would be using Gmail for my Hawaii business (aka Google Apps).
The reason why I initially switched to Google Apps for Business in Hawaii was that I wanted to lower my email server costs. I was paying about $40+/mo for a hosted exchange service for 2 users or about $500/yr. Google Apps for Business costs $50/user/year or $100/yr for 2 users.
The Google-supplied Outlook sync application made this a no-brainer for me. I could continue using the Outlook I knew and loved while saving $400/yr right off the bat. The fact that Google Apps for Business gave my Hawaii company more features like mobile support, Intranet features (via Google Sites), and chat was a nice topping. Sold!
The installation and transition from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps was quick and painless. In fact, I had switched other people in the company without their knowledge and they never even noticed the change. There were immediate additional benefits from the synchronization like web access via Gmail: I could walk up to any browser, login to my account, and see the same inbox on Gmail that I saw on Outlook.
But then, a funny thing started to happen: because Outlook completely sucked when it came to searching for previous email, every time I needed to search, I would open up a Gmail browser and search via Google instead. The difference was truly dramatic. I would hit the search button in Outlook, and while that was cooking, open up a browser, run Gmail, start the search, and get the answer at Google speeds. Meanwhile Outlook was still chunking to finish, usually several minutes later .
So in this spare time waiting for Outlook to finish, what do I do? Why, keep working, of course! Using what? Well, the only thing that was running: Gmail!
Therein began my gradual transition to Gmail. Every time I searched, I had time, which made me use Gmail. Slowly but surely I started using Gmail more and more and Outlook less and less. Sure enough, the fateful day finally came: God forbid, I didn’t launch Outlook! And I didn’t even miss it.
That was nearly two years ago.
Since then, I’m nearly 100% moved to the Google ecosystem. I access my Google Apps on my Android (Sprint EVO 4G) phone, use Google docs almost always instead of Microsoft Word (though I’m still stuck on Word because it does outlining and I LIVE on outlines), and find that 95% of the time I only have a browser open.
So if you’re using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, I suggest you look at my story as a great model to help you make the transition too. I haven’t looked back, and neither will you.
(Funny, today Google announced they updated their Outlook Apps Sync application and it really prodded me to write this story. Let me know what you think!)