Google: Microsoft Office 2010 A Cloud Collaboration Wannabe

Google says Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft’s new suite of office productivity applications, lacks the cloud collaboration chops that Google has honed over the last four years with its cloud-based Google Docs offerings.

The claims that Office 2010 falls short when it comes to cloud collaboration come as the cloud computing competition between Google and Microsoft boils over.

The mud-slinging reached its crescendo last week, when Microsoft officially unveiled Office 2010, its updated suite of productivity applications that for the first time ties in cloud-based versions of its popular software like Outlook, Office, Excel and PowerPoint in its Web Apps component. Microsoft also added a host of new features to Microsoft Office 2010 the company said foster collaboration and make work easier.

Google, however, has made it clear that Microsoft is late to the cloud party with Office 2010 and Web Apps, according to a recent interview Google’s enterprise president David Girouard gave Computerworld .

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Girouard’s most recent jab comes as the pair powerhouses continue to exchange blows in the battle for cloud computing control.

Microsoft has chided Google for urging potential Office 2010 users to hold off and to use Google Apps, and namely its Google Docs office productivity applications instead.

Google fired back, highlighting its acquisition of DocVerse earlier this year, one of nine acquisitions Google has made so far in 2010. DocVerse makes a plug-in that enables Web-based collaboration within Microsoft Office desktop applications. Google has said DocVerse enables ’true collaboration right within Microsoft Office.’

According to Chris Vander Mey, senior product manager of Google Apps for Enterprise, collaboration is the true value in the marriage between cloud computing and office productivity applications. And collaboration is where Google Docs outshines Microsoft Office 2010.

’Both Microsoft and Google agree that collaboration is the cornerstone of 2010. [With Google Docs] you get real time collaboration that’s simple to deploy at a very low cost,’ Vander Mey said in an interview with CRN. ’I don’t think you get any of that with Office 2010. You don’t get low cost. It’s not easy to deploy. And you don’t get real-time collaboration.’

NEXT: Looking At The Costs And Collaboration Capabilities

According to Vander Mey, Google Apps Enterprise Edition runs $50 per user per year and includes all Google Docs offerings. Google contends that Office Professional 2010 would run a business about $499 with a host of other costs including SharePoint 2010 software, client access licenses and other hardware, according to a chart Google posted last week.

’It’s been really hard to figure out how much [Microsoft Office 2010] costs. It’s so complicated,’ Vander Mey said, calling the pricing ’obtuse.’ Microsoft representatives could not provide per-user pricing for an enterprise deployment of Office 2010 by press time.

Pricing aside, Vander Mey said some of the real-time collaboration features touted in Microsoft Office 2010 are limited to the desktop versions and not in the Web Apps portion. For example Office 2010 offers Web-based collaboration in Excel, but users of Microsoft Word 2010 can’t collaborate in real time while working on a document; instead, one user can edit and work in a document at one time. Essentially, documents in Word are viewable by other users, but locked until one user releases it and to let another user contribute. Google, on the other-hand, offers real-time collaboration in all of its Docs offerings, Vander Mey.

Microsoft did not respond by deadline to requests for more specifics around the real-time cloud collaboration capabilities of Office 2010.

’We’ve been working on real-time collaboration for four years,’ Vander Mey said, adding that character-by-character real-time collaboration and chat in Google editors were recently included during a recent Google Docs update. ’It allows you to get the job done more quickly and more efficiently. You can get to a consensus much more quickly.’

"We’re able to provide true multi-tenancy, synchronous replication, globally distributed cloud computing to our users,’ Vander Mey continued. ’We really have built a cloud solution from the ground up that runs in the browser.’

And while DocVerse does not yet have an expected release date, Vander Mey said it will add more capabilities into the Google cloud offerings and give Microsoft Office users more collaboration capabilities from Office 2007, or even Office 2003, than Office 2010 offers.

The pending release of DocVerse is one of the main reasons Google is urging Microsoft Office users to hold off on upgrading to Office 2010. Vander Mey said using DocVerse a Word 2007 user can collaborate with other Word users in real-time.

’For the first time, users really have a choice,’ Vander Mey said. ’You have a choice now and you should really look at your options. Do you want to upgrade your Office 2007 with Office 2010 or with Google Docs?’