Google targets business market with new Microsoft Office plugin

Internet giant Google has launched a new plugin that will allow users of the Microsoft Office suite to sync their documents with a Google Apps account and access them from anywhere, the company announced overnight.

The new feature comes as Microsoft has attempted to introduce cloud computing to its users through the introduction of Office Web Apps. The new feature will essentially cut out that process for Google users, allowing them to access updated documents directly through their Google account.

Group product manager Shan Sinha said in a blog post that it cannot take users away from Office and wants to help those users ease into the cloud.

Sinha actually started DocVerse, which was acquired by Google earlier this year, and the product has been developed further over the past nine months. It is now called Google Cloud Connect, and is available for some early testers.

“With Cloud Connect, people can continue to use the familiar Office interface, while reaping many of the benefits of web-based collaboration that Google Docs users already enjoy,” he said.

The plugin callows users of Office 2003-2010 can now sync Office documents to the Google Cloud. Once you save your documents as usual, a copy is sent to the Google cloud and you can access them through your normal apps account.

“Once synced, documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs. And because the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version.”

Sinha points out that Google accounts can be accessed by multiple users, so once you save a document your colleagues can jump in and grab the latest version no matter where they are. “A full revision history is kept as the files are edited, and users can revert to earlier versions in one click,” he says.

This is especially useful for businesses, as multiple users will be able to access updated documents from a single location.

The software will be available for Google Apps for Business customers, who can sign up for a testing period on the Google website.

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