Posted on April 15, 2016

Real estate company Harcourts International has selected Microsoft over ­Google as its primary productivity solutions provider for thousands of employees across Australia.

The move comes as Microsoft  lifts the lid on the local availability of Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online, which means the service will be ­deployed from Sydney and Melbourne data centres instead of overseas.

Harcourts will move from Microsoft Outlook to its online equivalent for 2400 users from five different subsidiaries in 280 offices. That process is expected to be completed around August, Harcourts chief information officer Jason Wills said.

Mr Wills said workers had found Google Gmail “too hard to use” when they trialled it.

“For our salespeople, the average age is 52, found the Microsoft solution far easier (to use),” he said.

Gmail organises conversations or emails in threads that corporate users have said was difficult to read or follow, unlike Microsoft Outlook. “Most of our offices have Outlook so the transition (to Office 365) was very simple,” Mr Wills said.

Harcourts’ 150-strong corporate team in Australia and New Zealand were early users of Office 365’s full capability, utilising Microsoft’s Singapore data centre last April. “We’ve been giving it a good thrashing to make sure it works perfectly for the rest,” Mr Wills said.

Office 365 includes email, communication and collaborations products such as Yammer.

Email implementation was the first stage of the project followed by Yammer, One Drive and other applications, he said.

Harcourts partnered with cloud services firm CloudFirst to deploy Office 365 in Australia and will soon focus on New ­Zealand. Harcourts will join the likes of Sydney Water as early adopters of Office 365 in Australia. Microsoft Office division lead in Australia Steven Miller said there had been keen interest from government ­agencies.

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