At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 conference (opens in new tab), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer minimised the impact of Google Apps could have on Microsoft Office marketshare on a worldwide scale.
Google Apps Premier Edition was launched back in February 2007 and has already captured one notable customer (Global IT Consultancy Group Cap Gemeni (opens in new tab)).
While Ballmer is yet to be impressed by Google's offerings, there are hints elsewhere though that Microsoft is preparing itself for a wave of Software-as-a-Service offerings (from Google, Zoho, Thinkfree and others) that could undermine Office's position in the long run.
Microsoft has already demoed on a large scale, (opens in new tab) web-based (but not web browser based) version of its latest office suite, Office 2007. Microsoft has also actively encouraged customers to fuse desktop Office 2003 applications with Office Live (opens in new tab) which offers value added services like Web hosting, hosted emails, a 250MB Sharepoint Lite service (opens in new tab) and other business tools.
Furthermore, Microsoft has already expressed a keen interest in offering Microsoft Works (opens in new tab) as a free ad-supported service.
So while Ballmer says he's not bothered by Google, it looks like it is just another way for Microsoft to dumb down any attempts to destabilise it.