Google+ opens for business, to businesses

Google+ is attempting to build some character, according to a post on its official blog. Clay Bavor, Product Management Director of the Google Apps platforms, posted Wednesday morning that the social butterfly, er, network, is venturing in earnest into the space of collaborative enterprise solutions, currently filled by the likes of the recently-Microsoft-acquired Yammer. Google+ does seem to be sticking with its true colors, focusing on tailoring existing features in Google+ to be used effectively for an enterprise environment. 

 Bavor says that some of the features have been pilot-tested and will be “moving into a full preview mode” and rolling out to Google Apps customers throughout today.  The existing features include the ability to restrict posts to those within the organization, hold a Hangout or group video meeting, from within Gmail, Calendar and Docs, and administrative features unique to an organization’s network. Hangouts have been one of the more innovative and unique features of Google+. Google+ also pioneered the powerful, if time consuming and complicated, Circles feature, which allows users to restrict their sharing to particular groups. The administrative tools Google is releasing are surely a necessity for treading into the enterprise space, something the company talked about prioritizing in late 2011.

The business features will be free until the end of 2013; no mention was made of what the cost may be when this preview period ends. During this time, users can expect to see additional features added to the service.  Google Apps for Business customers currently pay a fee for the use of premium versions popular Google products such as Gmail, Calendar, and Talk — however, Google has shuttered the Google Apps for Teams element of its service. 

 In a separate post on August 3, Google’s Director of Engineering, Max Ibel, announced that the company would be phasing out its Google Apps for Teams product, the goal of which was to allow organizations “to collaborate using non-email applications from Google like Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Talk.” The choice, obviously, is likely due to its new venture with Google+ for businesses. Just to be clear, Google Apps for Business will still be around.

Google has perfected the art of shutting down products that most people have forgotten about, and this all appears to be well-timed: In June, a deal was struck for Microsoft to acquire Yammer, a startup focused on bringing social network and collaborative tools to the workplace. It would be a reasonable play for Microsoft to combine the collaboration features of the popular enterprise social network with its cloud-based productivity tools in Office 365. This would place the two titans of tech toe-to-toe in the battle for a share of the ever-increasing user demand for cloud-based solutions.

 The potential for impact with this product is serious, and could possibly disrupt web-conferencing, enterprise social networking, and cloud-based productivity markets. The main question is whether Google can overcome the scarlet G+ on its chest and its diminishing network effect to convince businesses that its services are powerful, widely adopted and here to stay. Honestly, a pivot from a social-only network to a niche business one doesn’t sound like a bad idea right now. 

Computing

Teens using Google Docs as the modern version of passing notes in class

Google Docs is reportedly being used by teens as a secret communications app. Instead of passing notes, students are now using the software's live chat function or comment boxes to talk with their friends while in the middle of classes.
Deals

Here are the 5 of the best antivirus solutions for your small business

Getting your business off the ground is hard enough, and dealing with viruses, hackers, and security breaches only makes it harder. These 5 antivirus solutions can help keep you protected.
Computing

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.
Computing

These 28 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find.
Computing

Is 14 inches the perfect size for a laptop? These 4 laptops might convince you

If you're looking for the best 14-inch laptops, there are a number of factors to consider. You want good battery life, an attractive screen, solid performance, and a good build. Our favorites that do all that and more.
Gaming

Get Corsair’s best mechanical keyboard at a decent discount

From March 17 to 23, you can get one of the best mechanical keyboards around at a great price. The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is normally $200, but this week you can pick one up from Amazon for $160.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Need more from your conference white board? The Surface Hub 2 should have it

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Computing

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

Here’s how you can watch today’s Nvidia GTC 2019 keynote live

Nvidia's rumored 7nm Ampere graphics could debut soon. The company will be kicking off its GPU Technology conference at 2 p.m. PT today, Monday, March 18, and you can watch the opening keynote here.
Computing

After fourth attack, hacker puts personal records of 26M people up for sale

A serial hacker going by the name of Gnosticplayers is selling the personal data of 26 million people who have been using the services of six different companies from across the world.
Computing

HP’s Omen Mindframe headset keeps your ears chill, but might leave you lukewarm

The Omen Mindframe headset uses HP's FrostCap technology to keep ears cool during long gaming sections. While it delivers on keeping ears cool, it forgets some of the essentials of a quality gaming headset.
Computing

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.