Microsoft Bites Back At Google's Office Cloud Play

Microsoft's bold proclamation comes as Google launches Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, a plug-in that enables cloud collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Office desktop productivity apps and puts Office files and documents into the cloud.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office became available this week, adding cloud and collaboration to Office apps Word, Excel and PowerPoint in Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows PCs. The plug-in lets two or more people work together to collaborate on the same file at the same time, Google said, without the need to use SharePoint 2010. It enables simultaneous collaboration, revision history, cloud sync, unique URLs and simple sharing to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.

"Many of you already use Google Docs for editing your documents, but there are still many of people that are tied to desktop applications and haven't experienced the numerous benefits cloud applications to bring," Google Apps Product Manager Shan Sinha wrote in a blog post highlighting the availability of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.

Microsoft, however, said Google's launch of Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is recognition of Office's hold on the productivity apps space. In a statement e-mailed to CRN, Microsoft gave Google a sarcastic pat on the back about Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, but said Google's cloud computing and productivity initiatives fall short.

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"Although it's flattering that Google is acknowledging customer demand for Office, we're not sure Google's heart is in the productivity business," Microsoft said in the statement. "Their revenue and market share have been miniscule after four years of trying, and services like Cloud Connect appear to be more targeted at getting your data onto their servers, than helping you get things done."

Microsoft also highlighted the differences between Microsoft's productivity and collaboration capabilities and that of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office in a blog post that said "we have very different takes on how to improve productivity." Microsoft claimed that Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office introduces security and privacy concerns; forces users to lose some Office functionality; and can lead to loss of data and productivity.

Google declined to comment on Microsoft's response.

Microsoft's biting response is in similar vein to the software giant's claim late last year that Google's heart isn't in the cloud computing game.

In a December interview with CRN, Tom Rizzo, senior director of Microsoft Online Services said, "When customers evaluate [Microsoft and Google] side-by-side we're winning most of the deals when it comes to the cloud-based productivity. And I would say it's because customers have come to expect a certain class of service and functionality that Google just can't provide, nor are their hearts really in it. At the end of the day they make their money from ads not through Google Apps."

Microsoft and Google have become arch enemies of sorts in the cloud computing market, with the two tech powerhouses engaging in an ongoing tit-for-tat for high-profile cloud computing customer wins and cloud computing features and functions as each one looks to claim the cloud collaboration crown.

For its part, Microsoft has been showcasing its Microsoft Office 365 suite, which rebrands its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) of cloud computing applications and includes Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.

Meanwhile, Google continues to launch tools that increase the cloud capabilities of Microsoft products or ease the migration away from them and onto its Google Apps platform, like Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.

Google and Microsoft are also exchanging cloud computing blows in the courtroom. Google recently won an injunction that halted a nearly $60 million cloud computing contract Microsoft won for the U.S. Department of Interior. Google said that the bidding process for the government body's cloud-based e-mail and collaboration system was skewed to favor Microsoft and that Google was not part of a competitive bidding process for the contract and documents were written to ensure Microsoft took home the deal.