Google Apps Product Manager Discusses the Collaboration War with Microsoft - Page 2

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Q: You mentioned dealing with the loss of fidelity when importing documents from Office to Google Apps. What do you mean by that and what else is Google doing to improve the bridge between Office and Google Apps?

It's the formatting around the data, so if you have a spreadsheet which has complex formatting around it, higher fidelity document editing will help solve that problem. The richness of what you can do in a Microsoft Word document, from a two-column layout having an image, which has text embedded around the image.

Those are things that we are building so Google can handle those types of documents. Your text will always be correct, we don't have corruption of your content, but right now the fidelity of that content may not be perfect. For the majority of users that's OK, but for more complex documents, there are scenarios where it doesn't import perfectly well and we want to solve that problem.

Q: What are some things you'd like to do to bring Google Apps more on par with Office and SharePoint?

We want to have more powerful pivot tables in spreadsheets; multiple column layouts in documents is another example. On presentations, we want to have more advanced table functionality, more advanced animation functionality -- all of the things that are more advanced use cases of PowerPoint and Excel.

Q: What will a completed HTML 5 specification enable Google Apps to do for collaboration?

Google Wave is built on HTML 5. There are a couple things that Wave does that makes the bridge between client applications and Web applications minimal. An example are the full, real-time aspects, where I type a letter and everyone in that document can see that letter. HTML 5 enables you to offer more vector-based graphics in the browser window itself. Browser capability is limited today by HTML, but HTML 5 adds a graphics renderer directly in the standard.

Another feature in HTML 5 is a caching capability, so you can do some caching in the browser itself so you don't have to always ping the server. So if I have a low Internet connection, I can still get a rich experience in the browser and I can improve the speed because I have a local store of the UI or the data itself, which allows a much richer interaction with the application. HTML 5 has also taken a lot of the Google Gears spec, so you can have offline capability. All aspects of the HTML 5 spec are going to improve where we can go.

Q: Google Wave is a good segue for the next question. It seems that Google Wave, even in beta, does a lot of what Google Apps already does. What is the relationship between Google Apps and Google Wave?

Wave is a platform that lets me do a couple of things. It embeds real-time collaboration, but it doesn't have a spreadsheet capability, so if I want structured content, there isn't a way that Wave will solve that problem. Wave is a platform that lets other applications plug into it. My feeling is there is always going to be some role of Google Docs. You want to create a presentation, a document with rich editing and table, or a spreadsheet. Wave might be the mechanism by which you distribute and share that content longer term, but that is still to be determined. I think what you'll see is a blending of Google Apps and Wave.

Q: So Wave will be leveraging the existing Google Apps?

Exactly. You'll see a continuum. As Wave improves as a platform, Google Apps will become more integrated with it.