Keep Your Enemies Closer: Google Docs Syncs With Microsoft Office In The Cloud

Google on Monday took another stab at Microsoft with the Google Cloud Connector for Microsoft Office, the latest jab in the continuing cloud computing back-and-forth between the two tech titans.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office lets users view and collaborate on Microsoft Office documents via Google Docs, Google's cloud computing-based suite of productivity apps, wrote Shan Sinha, Google group product manager and DocVerse co-founder, in a blog post. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is the fruit of Google's DocVerse acquisition earlier this year. DocVerse makes a plug-in that adds Web-based collaboration to Microsoft Office desktop applications.

Sinha bills Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, which was made available to testers Monday, as a tool to smooth the transition from Microsoft Office to the cloud, similar in function to Microsoft's SharePoint offering, which lets Office users collaborate in documents in real-time. Google Cloud Connect lets users continue using Microsoft Office while leveraging the cloud. The plug-in adds a Google Cloud Connect toolbar into Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

"Users of Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 can sync their Office documents to the Google cloud, without ever leaving Office. Once synced, documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs," Sinha wrote. "And because the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version."

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Google said the Office documents don't change format and once in the cloud they can be shared and simultaneously edited by multiple people from within Microsoft Office. A full revision history is kept as documents are edited and documents can be reverted back to earlier versions; features that are available in Google Docs that Google is now making accessible in Office.

The launch of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office comes as Microsoft trumpets its cloud computing capabilities and rebrands its cloud offerings under the Microsoft Office 365 umbrella. Office 365 is Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) cloud computing applications rebranded with Microsoft Office added to the mix. The Microsoft Office 365 suite comprises Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is the latest move in a continuing tit-for-tat between Microsoft and Google as the two powerhouses aim to control the cloud computing landscape.

The cloud computing kerfuffle between the two has sparked a bout of one-upmanship as they battle for high-profile engagements and customers. When Microsoft revealed that it had signed a deal with New York City to run the cloud, Google announced adding NYU and its 60,000 students, faculty and staff as cloud computing customers, sparking a fight for bragging rights as the cloud provider of record in New York.

In recent months Google and Microsoft have competed head-to-head for cloud-based e-mail and application gigs in government agencies and on the cloud-based productivity apps front with Microsoft putting Office in the cloud with Office Web Apps 2010 to better compete with Google Apps and Google Docs.

The two companies have also battled to control cloud-based e-mail and collaboration, with Google offering tools to migrate Microsoft Exchange and Outlook users to Google Apps.