Google is releasing Wave, its new collaboration tool, to a limited number of businesses and schools, as it builds towards the release of product that could give enterprise customers a real reason to abandon Microsoft productivity applications.
Wave "is equal parts conversation and document, where individuals communicate and work together in a multimedia environment â€" the wave itself," blogged Google enterprise product manager Matt Glotzbach and Google Wave product manager Stephanie Hannon on the Official Google Enterprise blog. Google of course hopes it's all that and a much bigger bag of chips. If Wave works as expected, it will not only tie together the online Google Apps productivity suite, but will create a compelling reason for businesses to switch, beyond "it's cheaper than Microsoft." Cheaper isn't necessarily an argument when you're talking about pulling apart the pieces of a well-established stack, but providing something that could potentially create exponential improvements in productivity is.
Presumably, there's going to be more than a single instance of Wave -- last time I checked in with Google app developer Ben Rometsch, director of the Solid State Group, Wave was running on just one instance -- for every developer in the world noodling around with the new application surface -- and that was causing some chaos and slowness. Google will also have to do more to explain how it will handle privacy and security issues that will be top of mind for every enterprise IT administrator.