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Photo: studioEAST/Getty Images

Google's G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Long seen as the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is now one of the two incumbents, facing fresh rivals of its own.

"That's a staggering number. ... These products have incredible reach. Changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do."
— Javier Soltero

Soltero declined to offer a breakdown of how many of those 2 billion users are for products beyond Gmail or how many are paid versus free.

Driving the news: Soltero, who joined Google from Microsoft last year, said his focus has been on doubling down on features that make G Suite unique, like its robust search, conversation focus in Gmail and built-in collaboration.

Once a startup CEO himself — he sold mobile email app Accompli to Microsoft — Soltero now touts the benefits of going with an established player, rather than some company that might not even be around a year from now.

Yes, but: The presence of so many startups out there shows there is more work to be done, Soltero said. "This is not a solved problem. Nobody has run the table on communication and collaboration."

  • As for what distinguishes Google from Microsoft, Soltero pointed to its Silicon Valley culture: "I don't feel the need to be quite as outspoken here," Soltero said. "People do a lot more self-examination here, which is great."

What's next: Soltero said to expect the "smart compose" feature — which suggests email replies, for instance, based on the content of the message — to expand beyond Gmail and Docs. The feature, he said, should go everywhere it is prudent to do so.

He also sees room for improvement in better integrating the separate apps. "I think we still have work to do," Soltero said.

Go deeper

Hill votes will make global waves

President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians.

2 hours ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The first exit poll from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a dead heat at 25%, leaving the race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: A second exit poll showed the SPD narrowly ahead. That's the one televisions displayed at SPD headquarters in Berlin, where the room erupted into cheers. Official results will roll in throughout the evening.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.