Today Google announced the Premier Edition of their fine Google Apps bundle of programs aimed directly at the heart of Microsoft’s Office suite of applications.
I love Google Apps so much I’m writing a book about it for Thomson Publishing called Google Apps Administrator Guide. We have discussed Google’s plans for World Domination in helping you collaborate on the Internet and the Premier Edition of Google Apps for Your Domain is the next step in working together in new and spectacular ways. Here’s what the new Dashboard looks like:
For $50 per user a year you get increased email storage space, technical support and a host of other goodies. You can remain on the free Standard Edition for as long as you wish.
This morning I immediately upgraded to the Premier Edition and here’s why:
Google Docs and Spreadsheets are now a part of your hosted domain and you can add that service even if you remain on the free Standard version!
With the Premier Edition you can create resources like rooms or projectors or cameras and share them:
Once you create the resource you may add it to your Calendar and other people can subscribe to that resource via their calendars to reserve the resource without your necessary intervention.
The Real Power in the Premier Edition of Google Apps for You Domain is in the ADVANCED TOOLS area where you can Bulk Upload users, create a single-point sign-on and invoke the Provisioning API:
Here’s how you know you’ve officially moved up from the Standard Edition to the Premier Edition:
You also get a whopping 10 gigs of email space when you upgrade to Premier!
There are also Third Party enhancements in the pipeline you can sign up to use with your Premier account:
One of the best things when you pay your own way on the Premier level is the ability to squash all that Google advertising bugging your Inbox and workspace:
You also get Tech Support from Google when you pay for the Premier Edition!
I had a few upgrade problems this morning. Google Checkout didn’t like my credit card. I resolved that problem by refreshing the page a few times. Let’s hope my credit card didn’t get repeatedly charged.
I also lost the connection to david.bolesuniversity.com but I was able to quickly restore that setting myself by telling the set up for Google Pages to use the CNAME I previously set. The personalized Start Page, Calendar and Mail login all remained untouched and working after the upgrade process. This morning I also added Google Docs to my personalized domain using a new CNAME entry.
I deleted several user accounts because I don’t want to pay $50 a year for accounts that aren’t being used.
For some strange reason the Premier Edition is telling me I have one more account than I really do and is planning to charge me for that account even though it is not active. I’m glad we’re still in a “free trial period” for the Premier Edition so these bugs can get squashed.
I picked up the phone and called Tech Support to see if they could solve the phantom email account problem. I entered my PIN number into the phone support system and I was connected to someone on a very noisy connection with a heavy Indian accent that sounded like a robot. When I asked if I was speaking to a live person or a robot, the person said, “Can a robot do this?” — and hung up on me!
I called back, entered my PIN again and had a much better connection to someone with a thick Irish accent. The person didn’t really seem to understand the problem and didn’t know how to help me. He took my email address and said he’d be back with me “straight away.” That was an hour ago.
So far Google Technical Support is rather awful! Don’t upgrade to the Premier Edition if you really need help because right now, they do not ooze confidence that they know the system or how to resolve your problems.
I still think Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition is a steal at $50 a year per user — especially when Microsoft is charging $225 per user per year for a less robust work suite with Office and Exchange — and, when you go with Google, they provide and manage the hardware for you.