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Yesterday, Microsoft announced plans to attract new OneDrive customers through a special “free-switch” offer aimed at rival cloud storage services from the likes of Google. Today, Google revealed it was turbo-charging Google Drive to include a bunch of new features designed to appease Microsoft Office users across the spectrum.

Though users can already freely view Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files that are stored in Google Drive via a preview pane, to insert a comment into one of the documents you would have to convert it into a Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets file first. But from today, that is no longer the case, with users now able to comment, assign tasks, and mention coworkers directly from the Drive preview pane.

Moreover, Google said that collaborators don’t even have to be using G Suite to benefit from this new feature. If they open the Word document in Office on their own laptop, they will see all comments and can reply directly from there.

This new commenting feature doesn’t just apply to Office files, however; it also now works with PDF documents and image files.

Above: Google Drive: Comment on Word doc

This isn’t the first support Google has introduced for Microsoft Office users. Back in 2015, Google launched a plugin that allows you to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents stored in Google Drive, though Office does have to be installed on the machine in question.

Additionally, other cloud storage services have sought the affection of Microsoft Office users through introducing deeper integrations. Box, for example, lets you create and edit Office Online files, while Dropbox also offers collaboration tools for Microsoft Office on both Windows and Mac.

Despite major inroads made by competing productivity software providers including Google’s G Suite, Microsoft Office remains a dominant force in the business software realm. PowerPoint alone reportedly claims around 95 percent of the presentation software market globally today; this dominance is inclined to encourage businesses to stay within Microsoft’s ecosystem, which includes tight-knit integrations between its Office software and OneDrive cloud storage system.

Today’s news from Google doesn’t fully address this, but it does at least make it just that little bit easier for companies that have to collaborate across different software types to get along.


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