October 22nd, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Business, Multnomah County, Business

MultCo Ditches Microsoft for Google

Multnomah County says it's set to become the first local government in the Northwest to ditch Microsoft for Google.

This Monday, Oct. 25, about 4,500 county employees will switch from Microsoft's Outlook program for their email and calendars, to a Google package that includes Gmail and Google Docs.

The change affects all county employees except the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office, which are staying with Outlook for now because they have special computer systems.

Marissa Madrigal, county Chair Jeff Cogen's chief of staff, says the county will save about $100,000 a year in licensing fees—plus an estimated $500,000 in wasted time dealing with what she describes as Outlook's shortcomings.

"I cannot wait," Madrigal says. "I cannot say that enough."

With Outlook's space limits, Madrigal says county employees constantly had to spend time archiving old emails because their inboxes were full. The Google package comes with 250 times more storage space, she says.

She says Outlook created additional problems. Different employees used different versions, and their calendars wouldn't synch. And Microsoft licensed its software for a minimum of three years, wasting money if the county lost workers. Google will renew its license each year.

The county anticipates additional savings with new video capabilities, allowing virtual conferencing instead of meeting in person, Madrigal says.

The change has been in the works for more than a year, with two pilot programs in the county's Information Technology Office. Madrigal says Microsoft tried to woo the county back about 18 months ago, offering its own version of cloud computing.

"The product was not as good, and it was more expensive," Madrigal says.

County officials believe Multnomah County is the first local government to abandon Microsoft on the Redmond, Wash.-based company's home turf in the Northwest. Farther afield, Los Angeles County is also making the switch to Google, Madrigal says.
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