Google has succeeded in scoring some big customers (such as Genentech) for Google Apps, its package of online tools for businesses. But in a business environment, there’s still a lot of resistance in moving away from Microsoft’s entrenched email/contacts/calendar software Outlook. Google announced today that it’s trying to win those customers over with a new service called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, which lets you continue using Outlook while your data is stored in Google’s infrastructure.

It’s already possible to access Gmail and other Google Apps products through Outlook using IMAP technology, but the integration is slow, said Chris Vander Mey, a senior product manager at Google, particularly compared to pulling data from Microsoft’s Exchange server into Outlook. Now, however, a company can move its data and accounts into Google Apps without sacrificing performance for employees who want to stick with Outlook. That’s currently 12 percent of employees at Google Apps customer Avago, for example — in fact, an Avago spokesman said it actually seems faster in Outlook than on the web. He also said the Outlook sync means there’s “less angst” involved in making the switch.

“For me, it really eliminates the last hurdle, or the mindset to letting go of Exchange, or the Exchange mentality,” he said.

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook will be available to Apps Premier and Edu accounts — in other words, paying customers and nonprofits — starting this afternoon. Here’s a list of the features Google mentioned today:

  • Fast mail sync with Google-native protocol
  • Microsoft experience upfront, Google experience underneath
  • Fast mail sync with Google-native protocol
  • Full calendar sync, including recurrence patterns, attendees
  • Contacts sync for all Outlook fields
  • Global address list for autocomplete and contacts lookup
  • Lookup of free/busy information

David Girouard, Google’s President of Enterprise, also shared some business numbers of Google Apps today. It is bringing in “hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue,” is profitable, and is used by 1.75 million businesses, he said.

[Image from Pixar‘s short film Partly Cloudy]