To woo businesses, Google dresses up like Outlook

Gmail is one of the most popular email systems for individuals. It comes in fourth place, behind Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail, AOL, and reigning companion Yahoo, according to comScore.

But among businessmen, not so much. Microsoft Outlook/Exchange is king of corporate email and calendars.

As Google tries to convert companies over to its suite of office software, it announced today a way to ease employees into the switch. Rather than teach workers a brand new program, Google has found a way to let people run Gmail and its calendar tool through Outlook. The program looks, feels, and runs just like Outlook, but all of the behind-the-scenes work runs through Google's servers, instead of Exchange servers.

This new yet familiar Gmail comes as part of Google's Premier Apps suite, which costs $50 per year per user.

That annual cost, Google says, is often cheaper than the price of running Exchange servers on site, because of all of the back-up, storage, maintain, and unexpected fees that come along the way. Such is the promise of cloud computing. Google can guarantee fewer hiccups than can the IT team at a small or even large company, because of the scale of its operation.

Even if the savings sound grand, some CIO hesitate to send their company into the clouds. For example, with Exchange servers, sensitive information is kept in the office building at all times.

Here's how the Google/Outlook system works:

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