Google Docs Play Intensifies Cloud Storage Competition

Google's latest cloud storage play, which will give users the ability to upload any type of file to Google's cloud via Google Docs, is entering into a growing cloud storage battlefield as companies attempt to differentiate themselves with new cloud offerings.

On Tuesday, Google unveiled a new, free cloud storage option which let users upload and access any kind of file via the Internet from any computer. This new cloud storage offering, once completed, will enable Google to accept any kind of file in the cloud, not just Google Docs text and spreadsheets, to enable access, sharing and collaboration among teams.

In a blog post announcing the new cloud storage offering Google Docs product manager Vijay Bangaru wrote that users can upload files of up to 250 MB in size to Google's storage cloud.

The free cloud-based storage from Google increases its competition against Microsoft, as Google offers a free online alternative to productivity software applications like Microsoft Office.

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Google opening up its cloud to files other than Google Docs not only intensifies Google's back-and-forth with Microsoft Office, but it also pits Google more strongly against Microsoft's enterprise cloud-based platform, Azure, and its consumer-focused Windows Live offerings.

Other free cloud storage offerings include Google's DropBox offering, and a handful of startups looking to capitalize on the hype of cloud computing with cloud-based back-up and storage options.

Google is also going after Apple and its MobileMe cloud service. While MobileMe is not free, it offers 20 GB of storage for $100 annually.

In Microsoft's case, Azure already offers a la carte pricing, while its Windows Live offerings give users 25 GB of free cloud storage space through SkyDrive, according to Microsoft. Additionally, SkyDrive enables users to upload and access myriad file types including graphics, music, video, PDFs and others.

Google plans to give customers up to 1 GB of online storage for non-Google Docs format files free of charge. For additional storage, users will pay 25 cents per GB per year, Google write in a separate blog post.

Google has said that users of the Google Apps Premier Edition, which includes Gmail for business, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sites and other applications for $50 per user per year, will be able to purchase additional storage for $3.50 per GB per year sometime in the next few weeks.