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Google versus Microsoft: Google Cloud Connect launches

There have been whispers forever that Google wants a piece of that tasty Microsoft pie and thinks it can do a very many things better than their rival. Microsoft Office 365 sounded groovy when it launched but the stakes just got raised again. Now, with much fan-fare, the cloaks are off and daggers are out. Small and medium enterprises no longer need to bother with the hassle and expense of shifting to SharePoint or upgrading their software; they can simply download a groovy little Google add-on (for free) and start using their existing Microsoft Office suite (2003, 2007, 2010) in Google Cloud Connect.

That’s right, this neat little Google plug-in hooks into your existing Microsoft Office suite and effectively upgrades it’s capabilities. No need for an expensive software upgrade, just download the fairly light plug-in and you’re away.

With Google Cloud Connect installed, multiple employees can edit the same document, in real time, save it onto their PC and share it with someone in another office anywhere in the world, who may also be editing the same document at the same time. None of the changes get lost, you can message chat with your co-worker as you edit, and a copy is also saved and stored securely in the Cloud. Goodbye document versioning, mistakes, tragic deletions and complex phone calls explaining which version you’re working on.

Google would probably rather businesses went straight to the Cloud and used Google Docs to share and collaborate using the Google Apps service, but, with this launch, acknowledges that the commitment to Microsoft Office is high and pretty much universal. Google Cloud Connect is a bridging strategy (world domination of the enterprise space comes later).

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office works for “the big three”: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Whether businesses choose to “go Google” and sign up for Google Apps, taking the capabilities as far as they are currently able, is totally optional. Meaning that from today you can download the add-on and start sharing your Microsoft docs in real time, from your existing computer, no upgrades needed. Bang: you’re away.

We are talking Web, though, and the usual question must come up: is it safe? To share docs via Google Cloud Connect there are two layers of security: login password then mobile verification, so it’s safer than your average gmail account, but may not satisfy the more suspicious amongst us. Convenience and cost savings are likely to scare away that demon though.

So where to from here? It’s only one small step and desk-top specific, proprietary software and tiresome updates are done. Before you know it businesses will have sacked their IT departments, signed up for Google Apps and we’ll be editing documents entirely within our favourite browser, which, if Google has backed a winner with Cloud Connect, is likely to be Chrome.

What do you think?

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Elayn James

Elayn James

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