Web-based e-mail has been geared primarily toward personal use. Now, big players such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Google are trying to lure businesses away from on-site e-mail servers and into the cloud. We took the services for a test drive. Here's how they stack up.
GOOGLE GMAIL FOR BUSINESS
We set up an e-mail server in record time, and the interface ran superfast. <a href="http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/gmail.html">Gmail for business</a> is designed primarily for the Web, but it has a Microsoft Outlook plug-in.
Cost: $50 per year per user for a 25GB inbox
MICROSOFT EXCHANGE ONLINE
A good choice for companies nervous about migrating to the cloud, <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/online/exchange-online.mspx">Exchange Online</a> is the Web version of the ubiquitous on-premise e-mail client. Features include the ability to log on to your account and wipe your mobile phone of sensitive data if it's lost or stolen. Some drawbacks: The program works best on Internet Explorer, and the setup is a bit tricky.
Cost: $5 per person per month for a 25GB inbox
CISCO WEBEX MAIL
<a href="http://www.webex.com/enterprise/cisco-webex-mail.html">Cisco WebEx Mail</a>, which launched in November, works well with the popular WebEx Web conferencing portal and doesn't require plug-ins to work with Outlook. But it does not currently let you run any widgets or add-ons, and the ease of setup seemed about on a par with Exchange during a demo with Cisco.
Cost: $5 per month per user for a 5GB inbox