Google recruits resellers to compete with Office

Google took another step on into Microsoft's heartland, recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients, Reuters reports.

From the end of March, authorised resellers will be able to sell, customise and support premium versions of Google Apps, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and email - in direct competition with Microsoft Office via the web.

Since it launched Google Apps in February 2007, Google has only sold directly to business users over the web. Reuters says that analysts believe the move to work with third parties is necessary if Google hopes to compete seriously with Microsoft or IBM.

Microsoft, sells more than 95% of its software through more than 440,000 third party resellers, according to Gartner Research, and intends to spend around US$3 billion on managing those sales channels in 2009, according to Reuters.

By comparison Google has so far only dipped its toe in the water, but sees a great opportunity after running trials with more than 50 resellers in 25 countries. It also has a nine-month old relationship with