Web-giant Google has launched a suite of software designed for SMEs to use, in a move that puts it in direct competition with Microsoft.Launched earlier this week, Google Apps offers SMEs a host of features, including email, instant messaging, website creation and a software which allows users to edit documents originally created on Microsoft Word and Excel.As all the data is stored online and applications are accessible wherever internet is available, the programs remove the need for SMEs to operate their own, potentially expensive, IT storage systems.The products will be available to SMEs at a cost of $50 a year and offer 24-hour technical support.Google has said that the new products will be easy for SMEs to install and manage, saying: "We've heard from many administrators who have set everything up in a matter of minutes, not days or weeks as it usually takes to enable powerful communication and collaboration tools for a whole organization."Even though Microsoft launched its new Vista operating system earlier this month, many SMEs may choose to try out Google Apps before committing to a costly switch.© Adfero Ltd