Google Docs Neutralizes Microsoft Office With Offline Access

By taking a page out of the Microsoft playbook and offering offline acess, Google has in one fell swoop opened the door for Google Docs to be embraced by a new group of office productivity workers, said Tyler Dikman, the CEO of Cooltronics, a Tampa, Fla. solution provider.

"This opens up the realm of users available to Google," said Dikman. "It gives Google a larger pool of users to go after with more potential to increase their market share. And it sends a wake up call to Microsoft that Google Docs is not some experiment. This is something Google is investing a lot of time and money to make work."

Google Docs Software Engineer Philip Tucker detailed the new Google Docs functionality in a blog post on Monday titled: "Bringing The Cloud With You."

"We know that many of you have been waiting for offline access to Google Docs , and I'm happy to tell you we'll be rolling it out over the next few weeks, starting today with a small percentage of users," wrote Tucker.

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"Cloud computing is great, but you need the cloud to make it work," wrote Tucker in his blog. "On an airplane, on the shuttle commuting to work, or at home when my cable modem goes down, I want to work on my documents. And, until now, that usually meant saving a copy and editing on the desktop."

"Now there's a better solution," he continued. "With Google Docs offline (powered by Google Gears), I can take my little piece of the cloud with me wherever I go. Once enabled, I have a local version of my document list and editors, along with my documents."

The offline access could open the door to government or healthcare accounts that would not consider a 100 percent cloud computing based productivity suite, said Dikman. "This could make Google a great alternative to to Microsoft in those accounts given the price disparity," he said.

Dikman said that while Google is moving into Microsoft territory with offline access to Google Docs, Microsoft is stepping up its cloud computing based assault with a whopping $44.6 billion bid to buy Yahoo!. "Everything is moving toward cloud computing," said Dikman. "Maybe it is Google's view that the stragglers will adopt the offline model and then move to the online model."

Dikman said the cloud computing based model is going to be adopted at a rapid clip over the next several years. "It's probably going to be easier to count the number of applications that don't use the cloud computing model at least in some way rather than those that do,' he said.

Dikman said a big hole in the Google Docs strategy is the lack of a full fledged channel program. "Google hasn't come to me offering me any kind of partnership," he said. "When was the last time you saw Google at a VAR conference?"

In any case, Dikman said it is not going to be easy for Google to take down Microsoft Office a notch or two. "Microsoft Office and the Windows operating system are probably their two biggest money makers," he said. "You take a whack at Microsoft's bread and butter and they are going to fight back with everything they've got. Google is not as heavily invested in Google Docs as Microsoft is in their Office platform."