Google announced Cloud Connect this week, a free plugin for Microsoft Office that allows users to sync, edit and store Microsoft Documents in Google Apps, either by converting them to Google Docs, or leaving the files as Office Documents. Microsoft doesn’t appear to be either too happy or too impressed by Google’s new offering, and has been on the offensive this week to play down the capabilities of Google Cloud Connect.
(screenshot from the MS video, below)
In a Wall Street Journal piece on Cloud Connect, Microsoft reacted to the new offering, which is an outgrowth of DocVerse, a company Google bought last year:
Microsoft suggested most users will stick to Office. “People trust Microsoft to provide the best productivity experience on the PC, phone and browser,” said Clint Patterson, director of Microsoft Online Services, in a statement. “While we appreciate that Google is acknowledging the incredible customer demand for Office, used by over 750 million people world-wide, we believe people will find the Cloud Connect experience falls short of meeting their needs.”
Microsoft was also quick to point out deficiencies in Cloud Connect on their own websites, going so far as to release a video (on Google’s YouTube) pointing out some of the problems:
The video was included as part of a blog post on “Why Microsoft?”, a TechNet blog, that goes into further detail on Microsoft’s reaction. And if that wasn’t enough, the TechNet article was linked in a Microsoft Office blog post, which was in turn linked on Inside Windows Live.
A blog post at The Register points out that neither Microsoft’s Office Web Apps offerings or Google Cloud Connect actually sync desktop documents with those in the cloud, instead creating cloud copies from the desktop docs. The Register describes one scenario that many may expect from Cloud Connect that it doesn’t actually offer:
Though the free plugin synchronizes Microsoft Office files with Google Apps, letting colleagues collaborate on documents and spreadsheets via the interwebs, it doesn’t allow for collaboration across both Office and Google Apps. Either you collaborate via Office or you collaborate via Google Apps. You can’t use both suites to edit the same file.
That functionality isn’t an easy one to implement, the Register goes on to point out:
It’s a really, really hard engineering problem,” Google Apps Product Manager Shan Sinha tells The Register.
“If you look at Microsoft – they’re in the best position to be able to deliver something like this – they don’t even fully deliver a complete experience when it comes to being able to edit a document in the browser while you’re editing a document through the desktop app. They don’t support those scenarios either.”
Google, of course, has their own YouTube video touting the features of Cloud Connect (without mentioning any deficiencies):
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One thing for certain, the “Document in the Cloud” wars are heating up, and that can only be good for competitive innovation. Expect both Google and Microsoft (and others) to be pushing hard in this space in the months and years to come.