Google Docs just got better for users of Microsoft Office when they released a plug-in for the popular office suite that connects Office to Google’s cloud. The plug-in, called Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, will allow users to sync and share documents with Google Docs. According to a ZDNet article, the documents will not be reformatted by Google and the cloud storage will just act as a go-between for legacy Microsoft products to connect to one another.
The move acknowledges a few key facts. First, users aren’t ready to ditch Microsoft Office completely. And then there’s the acknowledgement that Google Docs is used more to collaborate than necessarily create documents.
Jonathan Rochelle, the group product manager at Google Docs, gave me a demo of a PowerPoint where the presentation was synchronized between two computers. Overall, the synchronization isn’t as fast as what you’d find in Google Docs, but the plug-in is handy. “With Cloud Connect you use Docs as a hub. There’s only one copy, but you can edit in Office and collaborate,” said Rochelle.
This comes on the heels of another Google Docs update that rolled the service out for mobile devices.
Cloud Connect really brings a new era of accessibility and interoperability between word processor users. Before this product, Google Docs users would have to upload their files into the Google Docs interface and pull them out when they needed them; this way, they can access the Docs cloud directly from within Microsoft Word and enable enhanced collaboration and sync across multiple machines.
According to Google, they’re targeting the legacy versions of Office because they don’t want to continually support updating the products as Microsoft upgrades them. As of this release, Cloud Connect works with Office 2003, 2007 and 2010.
Google is hoping to draw in more accounts to Google Docs with this sort of software, allowing owners of the legacy products to enter into cloud-collaboration. Microsoft themselves have not included this capability in many of their products yet, so Google is getting the jump on them by hooking their products into their cloud. However, the software giant is probably not far behind, and will likely return by adding cloud capability to their newest Microsoft Office.
All this will leave Google Docs and Google Cloud Connect to continue to hook up users of the legacy software.