Google may be generating interest from customers who want to access Google Apps data through the more familiar Microsoft Outlook interface, but it isn't the only vendor providing plug-ins to help users marry the benefits of cloud computing with their Microsoft Office data.
Enter OffiSync, a plug-in for Microsoft Office that lets users access Google Apps, Google Docs and Google search from within any Office application, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents. The tool comes as software makers, led by Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Zoho, are trying to expose more users to document creation and sharing in the cloud, or through the Internet.
Once installed, the plug-in appears as a new tool bar in Microsoft Office applications and allows users to save their Office files online for access from any desktop or laptop computer using Google Apps and Docs; find specific files with Google search; and collaborate on documents with coworkers through Google Docs.
The tool has been available as a beta for consumers to download since May. Later in July, businesses will be able to purchase a beta version of OffiSync for $10 per user per year, said Oudi Antebi, an entrepreneur who created OffiSync with the help of some programmers.
The enterprise version, which will be sold exclusively through as yet unnamed channel partners, will leverage the global address book in Google Apps, enabling business workers to more easily connect with colleagues.
Antebi, a former product manager for Microsoft Office, said the idea for OffiSync came from watching users create and edit documents in Microsoft Office, upload them for collaboration in Google Docs, and bring files back into Office to save them on the desktop. This process was so complex that he decided to fix it.