Google is developing a way for Microsoft Office users to edit documents collaboratively without using Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration server. It also has plans to extend the ability to edit Google Docs documents to mobile phones and iPads too.
The move further blurs the line between Google's web client approach to document editing, and Microsoft's traditional desktop application. While Microsoft continues to develop its desktop applications, it also launched a web app version of its Office suite in June. Now Google is taking the battle for business apps back onto Microsoft's home turf by developing a "ribbon" for Office that links the application to Google Docs online storage and collaboration tools.
Google's DocVerse ribbon allows Office users to save their documents directly to Google Docs, to track multiple revisions of a document and to collaborate on a document with other users of DocVerse and Office, seeing one another's changes in real time. Google acquired the company behind the ribbon, also called DocVerse, in March. DocVerse had previously worked on a tool for linking Office users to one another without using Google Docs.
Google's Regional Lead for Google Enterprise Sales Engineering Xen Lategan demonstrated the new DocVerse functions linking Office 2007 to Google Docs at a Google event on the outskirts of Paris. "When you hit 'save' it also places the document into the cloud," said Lategan, showing off the DocVerse ribbon's functions.
He also showed how formatting changes made in a document on one machine were replicated to a document open on another machine. The DocVerse ribbon is still in development. "This version was only compiled two days ago," he said, without giving any indication when a finished product will be ready.
Google also plans to extend the capability to edit Google Docs word processor and spreadsheet documents to iPad users and owners of Android mobile phones. Lategan edited a Google Docs document on an iPad to demonstrate the new functionality. Currently, users of such mobile devices can view, but not modify, Google Docs documents.