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Google Launches New Assault On Microsoft Office 126

Posted by timothy
from the to-the-mattresses dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "BetaNews reports that Google has announced the global availability of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, which went into beta late last year with technology that builds off Google's acquisition of DocVerse. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is essentially a plugin for Windows versions of the productivity suite (2003, 2007, 2010). 'The plugin syncs your work through Google's cloud, so everyone can contribute to the same version of a file at the same time,' says Google Apps product manager Shan Sinha. Additionally, Google announced a 90-day trial for Appsperience, described as 'a way for companies that currently use cumbersome legacy systems to see how web-powered tools help their teams work together more effectively.'"
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Google Launches New Assault On Microsoft Office

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  • by mantis2009 (1557343) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:39PM (#35306646)

    Google docs has real-time collaboration (you can see other people's edits as they happen). The video [youtube.com] on collaboration for Google Cloud Connect in MS Office says you have to save before edits are synced to all collaborators. Sounds like a recipe for lots of sync inconsistencies to me.

    • Google docs has real-time collaboration (you can see other people's edits as they happen).

      So if I type "cockcockcockcock" at the keyboard when the boss comes into the room because, well, it helps me think, Sir, anyone else can read that change immediately? Does no-one these days realise how much productivity is lost by the ability for people to instantly and frequently interrupt you?

      • Does no-one these days realise how much productivity is lost by the ability for people to instantly and frequently interrupt you?

        This is why I no longer use IM at work. (Note, my employer encourages IM for communication between employees.)
        People don't even try to solve a problem, they just interrupt me.

        • IM > Telephone, at least it allows you to finish what you were doing, unlike that bloody telephone that has to be picked up immediately.
      • So if I type "cockcockcockcock" at the keyboard when the boss comes into the room because, well, it helps me think, Sir, anyone else can read that change immediately?

        Yes. Though this is a terrible evil, the silver lining is that this feature also allows you to instantly see when something has been updated.

        Does no-one these days realise how much productivity is lost by the ability for people to instantly and frequently interrupt you?

        Do you not realize how much productivity is lost when you have two people working on the same shot because the spreadsheet hasn't been updated?

      • My God Man! Think of the BIG PICTURE. People will know when I'm not doing something, and may even expect some sort of performance improvement after they figure out that I now do nothing at all.
        Seriously, I am going to lose sleep over this...
        And I'll probably be expected to try and recoup those lost z's at home.
        Doh!
        Stupid Cloud...
      • by digitig (1056110)
        Just don't type it into the shared document. Simples.
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Google docs has real-time collaboration (you can see other people's edits as they happen).

        So if I type "cockcockcockcock" at the keyboard when the boss comes into the room because, well, it helps me think, Sir, anyone else can read that change immediately? Does no-one these days realise how much productivity is lost by the ability for people to instantly and frequently interrupt you?

        s/cock/Cock of the Walk/

      • by natehoy (1608657)

        I fail to see what this collaboration has to do with people walking in and interrupting you.

        I've used real-time collaboration in Google Docs before, and it's brilliant. I've used it on spreadsheets, not word processing documents, but I assume the word processing interface is similar.

        In spreadsheets, you're working along and suddenly a box appears on the right saying "Frank is also editing this document". It shows the cell I'm currently editing highlighted in one color, and the cell Frank is editing highl

    • But without locking or versioning. That'll work a treat. Fastest finger wins.

      Sorry, forgot, we get to spend our lives on conference calls now, we can all play distributed lock manager. Like dungeons and dragons but corporate.
       

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think youu're looking for 'Apartments and Accountants'

      • by Simon80 (874052)
        Let me get this straight. You're saying that Google Docs and this product are fundamentally flawed because they don't force the user to lock things before editing? The versioning is present, it's just implicit, which is the way it should be if the average user is going to willingly use version control.
        • I'm saying that Google Docs lacks features because there is no /optional/ and /visible/ locking of /parts/ of the document, and because you don't get a choice about when to commit your changes (making them visible to others). I thought it was Mac users who go about telling you that a lack of features is for your own benefit, but I guess Apple and Google aren't that different.

          Anyone who actually uses Office for more than writing employment covering letters knows that the Office 2010 + SharePoint is actually

          • by Simon80 (874052)

            I'm not saying that missing features benefit people who miss them. I certainly would not see any value in using Google Docs for anything except for the real-time collaboration, which works a lot better than various people here seem to think. It would certainly be useful to optionally have more control about when committing happens, or to have some reassurance that conflicts are presented to the user instead of possibly overwriting useful work (I hope they do this right but have never seen it occur - when ed

        • by Colin Smith (2679)

          No. It was a comment meant to be funny. Get a sense of humour installed. I think Debian have one in their repo.

           

          • by Simon80 (874052)
            Oh, is that where you got yours? You might want to fire up reportbug and tell the maintainer that it seems to be producing snarky comments instead of funny ones.
    • Dude, they have the best engineers, and even went so far as to recreate a file system based on an old one, not once, but twice, GFS and GFS2, I am sure I would trust their word, about how concurrency is kept on their systems...it might have lots of syncs, but they have even more checks in place for those syncs.....and even then, they have backups of backups of backups, so you are in good hands with google, probably even more then M$, that which you use (windows) everyday without thinking twice....!

  • Just because it's on the Internet it doesn't mean it's "web-powered", Google. Version control isn't the same as a shitty web app, even if this is the embrace&extend Google are trying to subject MS to.

    (Of course, unlike regular version control, for some reason a third party is needed and permits itself to datamine your repository.)

    • by vikstar (615372)

      What do you mean? This plugin allows live synchronisation over the internet, how is that not "web-powered"?

    • by Mia'cova (691309)

      While I find the term "web-powered" quite painful, we do call plenty of things "web services." In this case, I would assume that's how this is implemented. These days, services are beginning to unify their APIs. Rich clients and ajax-based browser app are starting to share the same web service APIs. So if it's implemented as a web service, I wouldn't take offense to the term "web-powered," even though it reeks of marketing.

  • by Suki I (1546431) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:41PM (#35306666) Homepage Journal

    The title does not seem to go with the article. It sounds like Google is adding more functionality to Microsoft Office, free of charge. What am I missing?

    • It's like when MS released Services for Netware/Unix/Mac - a shitty implementation for "legacy" clients as gateway to the full MS experience. In that case, the downgrade was to NT server. In this case, it's via "Appsperience" to Google "Apps".

    • The title does not seem to go with the article. It sounds like Google is adding more functionality to Microsoft Office, free of charge. What am I missing?

      Slashdot is no different to most mainstream media these days - everything has to be classed using aggressive words like "war", "assault" or something else dramatic. The odds of using such emotion in a headline increases when dealing with articles about Microsoft. I don't expect things to change one bit, because it seems to work.

      • Throw grit in the upgrade treadmill: If Google gets a portion of the MS-Office customers using the new service, and if MS-Office upgrades break the functionality the users will complain. In the past Microsoft will ask them to go fly a kite and ramp up the speed of the upgrade treadmill a notch. Now Google has enough credibility and if it blames/accuses Microsoft of deliberately messing up the API, Microsoft could not shrug it off or giggle at it like it did to DR-DOS
      • Detailed usage profile: Google will ha
    • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @07:22PM (#35307708) Journal

      They are taking aim at SharePoint. Now users can collaborate on documents without needing Microsoft's solution (SharePoint).

      • What a day to not have mod points ...

        I'm hoping our company tries this instead of implementing SharePain for the ten people who need to do collaboration. In fact, I'm mentioning it tomorrow!!!

        • Re:BINGO! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dave562 (969951) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:20PM (#35309240) Journal

          SharePoint is good for a lot of things, but I would put Google Docs like collaboration pretty far down the list. It's great for large projects. I've seen construction companies and law firms leverage it very successfully. But for 10 people, Google Docs is probably all you need.

          The thing I like about SharePoint is the way it supports processes and work flows. For example, if you have something like a construction bidding process where you're often filling out the same forms over and over again, and a lot of people are involved at different phases of the process, you can setup a work flow to route the documents from person to person. SharePoint handles the noticing "Hey Bob, it's time for you to sign off on X, Y and Z! Click here."

          • Share Point is great for a lot of things. Unfortunately, being a trustworthy repository for data and making good use of servers are not some of those things. Your example also:

            "For example, if you have something like a construction bidding process where you're often filling out the same forms over and over again, and a lot of people are involved at different phases of the process, you can setup a work flow to route the documents from person to person."

            This is a great example of Microsoft taking a problem a

            • by dave562 (969951)

              Share Point is great for a lot of things. Unfortunately, being a trustworthy repository for data and making good use of servers are not some of those things.

              Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Not trustworthy? Not a good use of servers? I've seen 1000+ users on a 4 server SharePoint farm accessing over 10TB of data, day in, day out.

              This is a great example of Microsoft taking a problem and creating a huge piece of software that makes the problem bigger. If you are often filling out the same f

              • by Rich0 (548339)

                You have no idea what you are talking about. Businesses live on standardization. If you create a new way of doing things for every project you do, you're an idiot.

                I don't think his issue was with standardization or having workflows.

                His problem was that instead of getting rid of paper-based forms all that is being done is to make them word documents and semi-automate filling them out.

                Why are the documents being created in the first place?

                Back in the day you filled out order forms to buy stuff out of catalogs. Imagine if Amazon.com worked by giving you a word document template for an order form, with a PDF catalog on their website. You filled that out, and emailed it

            • by JeffAtl (1737988)

              This is a great example of Microsoft taking a problem and creating a huge piece of software that makes the problem bigger. If you are often filling out the same forms over and over again, there is your problem. Now, you must either stop filling the forms (if they are not data aquisition), or at least stop making they flow around like they were useable data (if they are data aquisition).

              This is more of a case of you not understanding the problem. When dealing with the legal system, government or regulatory agencies as both construction companies and law offices do, there are legal constraints and requirements that must be followed - the IT department doesn't get to set the rules and make "improvements".

    • It sounds like Google is adding more functionality to Microsoft Office, free of charge. What am I missing?

      For a moment don't be Microsoft, be Google: Think three steps ahead.

      Today Google is making Office do something Microsoft still hasn't implemented for companies too small (or too smart) to use Sharepoint.
      Tomorrow the company's employees are editing documents from anywhere, changing their ideas of what the Internet can do (RIA) and that you don't actually need Office to read a .doc[x].
      The next day the boss realizes Google has something to offer and it's much cheaper and often higher quality than the stuff he

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      There are two different components of Microsoft Office:

      1. The applications. Popular software that I personally feel are the best of the breed for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. While I prefer LaTeX for documents and Matlab or Python/Scipy/Numpy for math (rather than spreadsheets), I've always had much better experiences with MS Office than Open/LibreOffice. Other options are nice but are less featureful (part of what makes them nice of course). I haven't really tried the Apple options

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:47PM (#35306740) Homepage Journal
    "Too the cloud, Alice!"
    What the hell does that even mean?!!!
    • by FPoe (1935312)
      I've asked myself this many times. As a storage analyst, everyone always uses "the cloud" as a buzz word to excite their managers into spending money. In the end it's still business as usual. disk backend, FC switched SAN. Sure it may be on demand, but when does on demand end? When I upload 14TB of documents?
      • I've asked myself this many times. As a storage analyst, everyone always uses "the cloud" as a buzz word to excite their managers into spending money.

        In the end it's still business as usual. disk backend, FC switched SAN. Sure it may be on demand, but when does on demand end? When I upload 14TB of documents?

        You really don't get it... it scales EASIER. Fault tolerance
        is TRUE fault tolerance. When something breaks in the middle
        of the night, you can fix it the next day cause at most maybe
        you lost 20% cycles, all the data is still there, it's still available.

        You come in the morning, replace the broken item, no one even
        knew anything had happened.

        The entire backend "cloud" has been commoditized. Sure it
        runs much better on a bunch of blades or server optimized
        equipment but you can use commodity stuff until that point

    • by guruevi (827432)

      Dilbert explains it to you

      http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-01-07/ [dilbert.com]

      and related

      http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2007-09-09/ [dilbert.com]

  • The spin from Google on this seems legit, but it also seems like they just want to have access to all our shit in case they want to snoop. I mean how hard would it be for them to read all the documents or pass on our footprints to other parties?

    • They will charge you a fee to set it up in-house if you don't trust the googleplex. Remember kids, the first hit is free, the addiction not so much (see Microsoft Office)

      • I don't believe that's true. If you mean the GSA, that's just search, not docs. The "docs for enterprise" stuff all mentions hosting on Google's cloud, even if you get your own domain. I'd love a link that proves me wrong.

  • Microsoft should write some server code that can talk to Google's Cloud Connect plugin! Then we can have Google search results on Bing and Google Doc files on Microsoft's cloud servers!!
    • If this was really "Embrace & Extend", the Google addin would "embrace" the Ribbon (love it or hate it), and "extend" their addon buttons to another tab (like say, Acrobat does).

      Instead, they choose to have an ugly old-style toolbar occupying more vertical screen real estate.

  • TFA; "so everyone can contribute to the same version of a file at the same time"

    Which essentially means that the file is versionless.

    Good luck restoring to an intended state if someone fucked the thing up.

    CC.
    • Re:Good Luck! (Score:4, Informative)

      by mclearn (86140) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:12PM (#35307062) Homepage
      Have you even used Google Docs before? Every document has a detailed versioning history with full support to revert back.
      • by foobsr (693224)
        Thank you for alerting me to the fact that a revert is technically possible. I would not have imagined that this is feasible. I am also not aware of the CVS concept, of which Wikipedia says "Developers are therefore expected to keep their working copy up-to-date by incorporating other people's changes on a regular basis".

        Especially now after you enlightened me, I see that I failed to take into account that users who collaboratively edit a document in a typical business environment are much more accustome
    • by Daengbo (523424)

      You've got to love Slashdot, where everyone has a say, and no one ever RTFA (or even uses the product commented on).

      • by foobsr (693224)
        You've got to love Slashdot, where everyone has a say, and no one ever RTFA (or even uses the product commented on).

        Yes, I love slashdot, because it always gives me the chance to at least virtually encounter people that virtually are that much based in the realms of reality that implications rendered by concepts are beyond what their imagination can grasp.

        I indeed love that 'groundedness' .

        CC.
  • I actually have seen this at work in a production environment, and it really works. it was a curious experience, after all those years of standalone office programs.

    its as if a lot of people are in the same chat room, but producing a document.
  • I would like some way of using Word to edit stuff stored in Google Docs. All this seems to be is a way of using Word to upload stuff.

    Anti MS comments aside, Word is a better Word Processor than Google Docs. Docs is very good but it is not what World+Dog is familiar with - yet...

    If someone can point me to how I can use Word to open stuff on Docs, edit it and save it back there that will do the trick. Then we will just need to make an Open Source plugin for stuff like Open Office and Office Libre and it wi

  • Having never used google docs for any real work, can someone tell me how well Google docs handles MS formats especially. docx and .doc ?

    I'd assume it would have to be near perfect otherwise it would suffer from the same problems facing Openoffice/Libreoffice...unless i'm not fully understanding the concept of google docs...
    • by joh (27088)

      Google Docs is only a poor replacement for MS Office. Either you squeeze what you have to do into what Google Docs supports or you leave it. I think it is clunky and has a terrible UI, too. But as always with Google it it as free as air and everyone is breathing it.

  • How is this news for nerds? More like News for Office Drones!

    • by westlake (615356)

      How is this news for nerds? More like News for Office Drones!

      The "office drone" is worth $6 billion each quarter to Microsoft.

      You mght want to think about what that means when you are trying to develop and promote an alternative office suite or an integrated office system.

      That means that consumers spent more than $1 billion on Office last quarter. According to investor relations director Bill Koefoed, a lot of those sales are upgrades in place from Office 2003, but consumers are also buying Office 2010 when they buy new PCs -- or upgrading from the free Starter Edition that comes with many new computers.

      Businesses are still the main customer for Office, however, and they spent nearly $4.6 billion on it and related products during the quarter.

      Office Saves Microsoft's Bacon For The Second Straight Quarter [businessinsider.com]

  • Was anyone disappointed when they found out that this didn't mean Google was rolling tanks out out of mountain view?

  • ...document management systems, like Hummingbird, than on Office itself. I suppose they're trying to get people used to "Cloud" document storage, though, so they can slide them into Google Docs.
  • The comments here about how collaborative editing can't possibly work beggar my experience and office reality.

    Do most folks here really think that passing around versioned copies of Word docs in email is the most efficient way to work together? Or is it just what you're familiar with because you've been sucking on Microsoft's teat for 2 decades?

    Docs works. It's not great as a word processor, but it's totally made up for with the collaboration that a team can do in realtime. Try it before you bag on it, b

    • by Coriolis (110923)
      It's one of the classic logical fallacies, Argument by Personal Incredulity. People seem to have immense trouble putting two and two together here. Google has put many, many person-years into working out how to do this. How do people think Wave worked, pixies?
  • I write documents a lot of it. Most of the time, one person is in charge of either reviewing, commenting or making edits. I am unable to imagine why 10 authors sitting across the globe HAVE the urge to work on a document at the same time.

    Have /. users done this type of real-time collaboration? What is the scenario? Did you guys find it useful?

    • by Daengbo (523424)

      Yes. Used it extensively, both personally and for assignments I've given to students. Your "editor makes changes as the document evolves. There's both creation and brainstorming happening at the same time. What GDocs lacks in formatting is no problem since your "editor" can take the final document and make final formatting changes in a more featureful editor. Collaborative art for projects is even more amazing to watch.

  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:59AM (#35309694) Homepage

    All registered users of Microsoft Office 2010 enjoy the free Sky Drive service, a 2 GB storage space in "the cloud".

    Not only can you share files with others, but it integrates directly with the "Save" command in Office as one of the destinations.

    Oh, and the people you invite to collaborate with you don't even have to have Office. They can log in (for free) and edit your documents via the web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It's rather slick, and yes, it works in Firefox and Safari.

    • by thijsh (910751)
      Oh wow, it's almost like Google Docs, only a little late to the party!
      I have MSO2010 (hardly ever need it, but still) but for online collaborative editing I always use Google Docs. Both are 'free' and look OK, but I trust Google to do a better job at their search integrates with GMail so I can find relevant files in the bulk fast.
  • I had the "pleasure" of working with DocVerse before they got acquired by Google. Nice tool, but the bugs, crashes, inconsistencies of it removed all the advantages. Bad preview quality, unusable once you used non-english content, I really hope they did some serious work on it recently.
  • by Pascal Sartoretti (454385) on Friday February 25, 2011 @04:12AM (#35310276)
    So you get the worse of both worlds : locked-in with a proprietary Microsoft file format, and your data handed over to Google. Great.

    Sorry, but I'd much prefer a standards-based solution (ODF documents on a WebDAV server, maybe).
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:39AM (#35312462)

    They've spent the last year making Docs suck more and more.

    1. Disabled offline editing, no replacement in sight but they promise it'll be fixed.

    2. Locked you into fixed page width and are unable to change how things are laid out.

    3. The new editor removed tons of customization because it was a big rewrite. I can understand getting basic features working before working on advanced ones but you can't roll out a new version of your product with less features than the original, critical features people are relying on.

    This is a problem with software as a service. If you fucking HATE the ribbon you can stick with Office 2003. There's the issue of not being able to work as easily with people using the new version of Office but at least your internal documents are fine. Using Docs, you have to upgrade when everyone else does and if they screw up something you like, there's no sticking with the old version.

    • This is a problem with software as a service. If you fucking HATE the ribbon you can stick with Office 2003.

      Yes, but just a long as it is maintained, patched, etc... This is the problem with commercial software : it is developed not in the user's interest, but in it owner's.

      With open source software, there is no owner, just a maintainer; if he starts acting bad (or looking as such), someone will start a fork, just like LibreOffice did with Oracle's OpenOffice.

That does not compute.

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