Cloud: Google Apps Unveils Microsoft Office Integration
Google has taken the lid off the Google Cloud Connect plugin for Microsoft Office, which does exactly what it says on the tin: links Microsoft’s legacy desktop productivity suite with Google’s cloud offering by way of a toolbar. While your humble correspondent doesn’t have access to a Microsoft Windows machine to give the the preview version of the plugin a whirl, Google gave me a demo ahead of today’s launch for “Trusted Testers.” Here’s the scoop.
The plugin works pretty much exactly like how you’d expect it to: it sits on top of your Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents, and when you save, it saves a copy to Google’s cloud, with a sync button enabling manual updates – especially handy when working with collaborators. And speaking of collaborators, the Google Docs URL is displayed at the top, and if you want to invite other users to work on the document you can either copy-and-paste or use the same prompt as you would in the browser interface.
The enterprise value of this plugin, according to Google Docs Product Manager Jonathan Rochelle, is twofold. First, it’s for enterprises that like the idea of the Google Apps suite but aren’t quite ready to commit to editing documents in the browser. Second, it enables Microsoft Office users to share documents with people who may not have the appropriate software involved.
This new functionality is based on DocVerse’s product, which Google acquired at the tail end of 2009. They’re not talking timetable for an official release once they’re past this very-closed testing phase. But a mid-2011 release sounds likely to The VAR Guy.
And, needless to say, Cloud Connect plays into the overall Google vs. Microsoft channel battle by giving legacy users a cloud upgrade path that enables them to leave Redmond’s ecosystem without abandoning their familiar programs.