Google finally integrated its DocVerse acquisition and on Nov. 22 released it as Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, a free software plug-in that people can use to create Office documents and save them to Google Docs.
Google Docs is the search engine’s document, presentation and spreadsheet application suite. Google stores the files users create with Docs in its larger server farms and provisions them over the Internet, or the cloud.
Docs is the Web-based alternative to Microsoft Office, the software giant’s own suite of document, presentation and spreadsheet applications. Office, which has more than 500 million users worldwide, is installed locally on users’ computers.
The Cloud Connect plug-in is Google’s attempt to bridge the gap between Office and Docs. The tool allows users accustomed to using Office to make copies in the Docs cloud, where creators can edit and share them with one or more people.
Once an Office Word document, PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet (Office 2003, 2007 and 2010) is created and saved to Google Docs via Cloud Connect, the documents are synchronized.
This means that the documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from any connected PC, laptop, netbook, tablet computer or smartphone through Google Docs.
In that manner, documents can be shared and even simultaneously edited by multiple people from within Office. Cloud Connect also retains revision history as the files are edited, so that users can revert to earlier versions.
“These are all features that Google Docs users already enjoy today, and now we’re bringing them to Microsoft Office,” said product manager Shan Sinha.
DocVerse Adapted for Google
Sinha co-founded DocVerse and adapted its assets for Google Apps after Google acquired the startup last March.
With Cloud Connect, Google hopes to get users to copy documents created in Office to the cloud for Web-based collaboration.
The idea is to ultimately gain more Google Apps users, which include more than 3 million businesses, at the expense of Microsoft Office. Google has been gunning for Office since it launched the Google Apps collaboration suite almost four years ago.
Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office will be available free to everyone with a Google account at launch next year. In the meantime, customers of the paid Google App for Business suite can sign up for the early tester period.
eWEEK was granted a tester’s pass and tried Cloud Connect with both Word and Excel documents from Office 2007. The tool worked well, letting us create documents in Office and sync them automatically by default, or manually per document.
We could then choose to share files created in Office using the synced versions saved in Docs using the Docs permissions tools offered for multiuser collaboration.
Cloud Connect is certainly superior to Google’s other attempt to build bridges between its cloud and Microsoft. In 2009, the company launched Google Apps Sync for Outlook to help users access their Google Apps e-mail, contacts and calendars through Outlook. That tool broke early and often and has been much-maligned since.
A quality Cloud Connect tool can help Google in its efforts to endear itself to Office users.