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Office? How quaint: Google announces Docs connectivity with Microsoft Office

Google announced today it is giving Microsoft Office users a way to bring their documents into Google Docs without having to leave the Office application.

While the service appears within the desktop Office application, this could be the final nail in the coffin for desktop document editing. Microsoft has already taken a strong position in the cloud with the impending launch of Office 365. The company brought all of its Office applications online in response to Google’s increasingly popular web document applications. Windows Live users can currently use the cloud-operated versions of its Office utilities.

This could easily serve as a way to ween users off the desktop-based Office software. Office is one of Microsoft’s biggest cash crops. So the company’s strong bet on Office in the cloud is a pretty clear indicator of where things are going. Microsoft is already planning to offer a subscription-based Office service in the form of Office 365. It also might even offer a subscription-based operating system service in the form of Windows 8.

Google did beat Microsoft to the cloud with the launch of Google Docs. And Google Docs already allows Google users to upload their Microsoft Word and Excel documents into the cloud and turn them into Google-powered office documents. Now Microsoft Office users don’t even have to manually upload their documents onto Google Docs — they can do it straight through the Office applications.

Google Apps, the bundle of business tools that includes Docs, has signed up 3 million companies with more than 30 million users total. Google Docs gives small- to mid-sized businesses with employees strewn across the country a powerful free option for collaboration. The alternative Microsoft offered before release of its Office 365 suite was paying for its SharePoint program, a file-sharing and collaboration tool that integrates with its Office suite.

This is another win for companies with employees strewn across the country. The business collaboration space is in dire need of consolidation. Forcing users to rely on SharePoint and other extra file-sharing applications to collaborate is only hurting productivity and preventing the virtual office from being as efficient as it can be. Google doesn’t necessarily have to be the flagship for collaboration, but it certainly isn’t afraid of trying.

It’s a little surprising to see Google jump in bed with Microsoft now, seeing as the Office creator has been flirting with Facebook at Google’s expense for some time. Facebook, the largest social network provider in the world, recently jumped on board with Microsoft’s Bing search engine instead of Google. Facebook also recently announced connectivity with Microsoft’s cloud-based office applications through its Facebook messages service.

But Google did pick up DocVerse for $25 million earlier this year. DocVerse specialized in helping people collaborate on Microsoft Office documents. So this connectivity was certainly a long time coming. The service is currently available to early testers across the world. Google hasn’t announced when the service will go live to everyone.