Google is innovating again with a new product — and, from my point of view, the result will be an easier, more integrated experience for cloud users, especially if you’re a small businesses testing out the cloud in the hopes of further ramping up at some time in the future.
Google on February 25th released a free tool, called Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, and it will allow users to transfer files from Office to Google Apps — so that multiple people can review, edit and collaborate on them. Google Apps offers individuals and small businesses online word processing, spreadsheet (similar to Excel) functions and the ability to collaborate with others via file sharing. These are all operated on a cloud-based server that’s part of a service called Google Docs.
Google Apps is free (Businesses with more than 50 employees pay $50 per year), but a thorn in Google’s side is that many users are so used to well, using Office, that they’ve been reluctant to migrate.
The way Cloud Connect will work is that Google will take uploaded Office files, upload them to company servers and give them a unique Web address. That will enable users to access them through Google Docs from any Web connection (commuting on the train, at your local Starbucks, etc.).
Voila! There you have it: Instant meetings where people can access the same doc and make mark-ups — and where all involved can see.
“It’s like a set of training wheels for the cloud,” Shan Sinha, a Google product group manager said in an article I read about the announcement.
Right now, more than 3 million businesses use Google Apps, and I can see how this added convenience will sway even more firms to try out the cloudware.
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