Google purchased a web collaboration startup known as DocVerse nearly one year ago. What they’ve done is similar to collaborating on Microsoft Office documents in a shared Dropbox, but they’ve made it a lot more simple. Since then they’ve been hard at work bringing the technology into Google’s infrastructure. In November they opened up Google Cloud Connect for beta testers and now, 3 months later, Google Cloud Connect is available to everyone.
Google Cloud Connect is a cloud sync add-on that automatically updates an online copy of your Microsoft Office documents to the Google Docs cloud whenever you save. As mentioned, this is pretty similar to what you could do by saving your documents in your Dropbox folder. The difference is, Google Cloud Connect will automatically refresh updates, stores author+revision information, and it has built-in fail-safes to prevent changes from being lost.
Just before last weekend, Google announced the new Microsoft Office add-on. The announcement was more-or-less just a huge advertisement to entice more companies to “Go Google.” Anyhow, groovy research team tested Cloud Connect out, and we’ve found that it works quite well. All of our documents were saved instantly to the Google Cloud, and it stored accurate revision history. When the add-on detected a new revision was available it would automatically download it and update Excel, Word, or whatever we were working in.
There were just a couple things we noticed that seemed to be lacking. The first thing we noticed is that it doesn’t work for Office for Mac, but Google said that is because Microsoft hasn’t supplied a proper API structure. Next, Google Cloud Connect doesn’t bring live-collaboration. The syncing functions are close, but it still doesn’t save your updates unless you press Sync or Save. And also, you can’t collaborate on Office documents from the online Google Docs editor. If you want to work on a file from your web browser Google Docs will have to first convert it to the Google format, which creates an entirely new file; this disconnects Google Docs and MS Office users. So for now Google Docs is just the middle man.
Cool! Bummer about those limitations, but definitely a step in the right direction.
Great for backup but the collaboration blows
Does this still work the same even if 2 (or more) people sharing the document are using different versions of MS Office, such as 2003 vs. 2010? If a document was created with 2007+, would a user with 2003 need the compatibility pack to work with .docx files, or would the file download to them in .doc format?
Everything should work out with sharing documents with different versions of MS Office.