Microsoft ready to land big CA email contract: Google cries foul

The state of California has that government’s email systems up for contract, a $60 million prize servicing some 200,000 users, according to an article in the LA Times.  The state has announced its intentions to award the contract to CompuCom Systems Inc., a Dallas based Microsoft-affiliated company, the winning bidder.  Google failed to make a bid after “state officials drew up a lengthy list of requirements the company said were impossible for it to meet”.  Google is claiming that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration rigged the bidding in favor of Microsoft:

"There’s no competition when only one team’s allowed to play," Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said. "With a level playing field, we’re confident we could provide a better product and save California taxpayers millions of dollars, which could be used to fund state services much more important than e-mail."

However the administration denies any wrongdoing:

State officials denied Google’s allegations of bias and were disappointed the company never submitted a bid. "The state went to great lengths to ensure we had as many bidders as possible," said Bill Maile, a spokesman for the state’s information technology office.

Apparently Google can’t figure out why California government workers would want to do things the way they are used to:

…Google argued its Gmail software could take care of the state’s needs, even if its software didn’t always do things the way many workers have grown used to — that is, the Microsoft way. Google’s program won’t sort e-mails alphabetically; Microsoft Outlook does. Instead, workers use a built-in search engine to locate specific messages, an approach Google believes is "more effective."

In a series of written requests to the state, Google asked that 142 of the state’s contract requirements be changed or removed. Many of those conditions involved functions that Google’s e-mail program isn’t designed to perform.

State officials rejected 115 of Google’s 142 change requests.

The state "probably wrote [the requirements] in a way that supported the way they were used to working," (Forrester Research analyst) Schadler said. "When any new innovative technology shows up, the old guard is looking at it and scratching their heads."

Previously in California, the city of Los Angeles had awarded its email contract to Google, however the LA Police Department has voiced a number of data security concerns, and Google missed a deadline in delivering the contract, which Google has called “minor setbacks”.  The LA City Council last week voted to continue with the contract, pending resolution of the Police Department’s concerns.