It reminds me a lot of what Autodesk figured out with their now ubiquitous AutoCAD software. If you make the software easily available (e.g. cheap) to colleges and universities, they will use it with students. The students in-turn will become accustomed to using that software and expect to use that same software in industry. In fact, as they enter the workforce, these students will be asked to recommend software the enterprise should adopt and as they become more entrenched these are the employees making the purchasing decisions. There are many K-12 students and educators using Google Apps, giving Google a big lead and maybe the mindshare of future generations.
Google, Microsoft Jockey For Enterprise Dominance
don't count Google out. Young people are using Google Apps at home or at school, and increasing numbers are entering the workforce more familiar with Google Apps than Microsoft. Google Apps is getting enterprise street cred, too, with big deals, such as for 15,000 users with Genentech and 12,000 with Johnson Diversey.
And by the time Office Web comes out, Google will have had a 3.5-year head start in selling online apps to the enterprise. Microsoft will have to play catch up in an area increasingly dominated by Google.