Google today announced a very useful new addition to Gmail: editing Microsoft Office documents that arrive as email attachments. A new Google Drive edit icon has been added to Gmail attachments that you can click to automatically convert Office files to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
Google notes that the new feature means you can turn Microsoft Office documents into a Google Drive file so that you have a single document to keep track of, as well as get access to revision history. This document can be accessed “from anywhere” since it resides in the cloud, and you can choose to make it available for offline access as well.
Here’s the new feature in action:
Google Drive today also gained support for importing 15 new Office formats, though they’re not very widely used ones: presentation show files, macro-enabled files, and template files. Here’s the full list:
- dot, dotx, dotm*, docm* conversions to Google Docs
- xlt, xltx, xltm*, xlsm* conversions to Google Sheets
- pot, potx, potm*, pptm*, pps, ppsx, ppsm* conversions to Google Slides
Google is also promising “improved charts, images, and tables support” for these file formats, but didn’t go into detail.
Being able to access documents in the cloud, with revision history, is of course not unique to Google Drive. Microsoft offers the same functionality in its own Office Online offering, but naturally not from within Gmail.
Today’s announcement is a prime example of how tightly Google ties its services together. Even if you prefer using Microsoft Office and OneDrive, or even Microsoft Office and Dropbox, they’re a hard sell if you’re a user of Google’s other services.
This is exactly why you will continue to see Microsoft using the same strategy as Google to bring Outlook, OneDrive, and Office Online closer together. In the cloud file storage wars, Microsoft has the advantage of Office and Google has the advantage of Gmail.
Some would argue that Dropbox is ahead with its cloud file storage service, but the company is playing catch-up in other areas (hence its acquisition of Mailbox and its document editing partnerships). This battle is far from over.