Google Cloud Connect saves copies of a person’s MS Office documents to Google’s Docs storage (they really need a better name for that). From here, that document can be shared with other people, where they can all make changes and have those changes show up in real-time. Access is not just limited to PC’s either- mobile support for Google Docs was recently fully implemented, so you can also make changes from your smartphone or tablet. Cloud Connect is compatible with MS Office 2003-2010 and is included for free for anyone with a Google Apps for Business account (I understand that regular Google Apps users will have access sometime later in the year).
The add-on still allows you to save MS Office Documents locally, but the purpose of it creating a Cloud based copy is clear- Google wants to transition you from MS Office to its Docs system, and this seems to be the first effective tool to accomplish the task. Google Docs is proving to be a productivity juggernaut by virtually eliminating the “send attachment, hope it goes through, await for it to arrive back with changes, wash, rinse, repeat” cycle employees typically go through when collaborating. It’s such a good system that Microsoft is offering many of the same features in its upcoming Office 365 service. Microsoft realizes that the age of physical media running software is quickly coming to an end, so they are scrambling to keep up with the times-again. After the ungainliness of MS Office 2007 and 2010, I’m thinking that Microsoft is going to have some rough roads ahead.
Not to sound like one of those “I hate everything Bill Gates” wackos, but Microsoft has slowly been losing it’s edge over the last decade, and I think that’s mostly been due to the company’s leaders getting too comfortable. They picked up a mentality of “load it with features, and if someone comes out with something new, copy ’em!” They did this with their smartphones (Win7 Mobile was just released last year to try to complete), with Windows (Windows 7 looks Mac-like for a reason), and now with web apps. Google, on the other hand, is full of fresh faces and new perspectives—not to mention becoming larger than Microsoft. Since Microsoft can’t buy them, Steve Balmer‘s crew is back to hiring developers and think tanks to write decent software again; you know- like a real software company! Fortunately Google and Microsoft are the perfect foils for each other, which forces the best ideas to the light. I know I’d rather be using well thought out software coded by people with a vision rather than something coded by a guy who’s fingers are numb from sitting on his hands.
I’ve used Cloud Connect for a couple of weeks now, and it’s benefits have been immediately obvious. To see Cloud Connect’s features in action, check out this overview: