Each time you open a new Word file in Microsoft Word, from now
on, there won't be any need to save your work every few seconds, for fear of
losing all your data with a power cut or a computer hang. Google's newly
launched Cloud Connect toolbar for Microsoft apps, sits inside a MS Word,
Excel, or Powerpoint application.
Available for free download, the toolbar enables users to directly save their MS Office work into Google's server farms located all over the world, from any device. Google's strategy to embed its apps inside MS Office suite, which forms almost a third of its $62 billion annual sales will be a direct hit into Microsoft's prime bread source after Windows, if successful.
Once logged in to a Google account, the toolbar automatically keeps saving any document being currently worked upon on to a Google server farm. The catch is that your PC should once in a while be connected to the internet, to get it synced with the cloud.
"We will keep documents on the cloud till eternity for a user, as long as his or her Google account is active," Shan Sinha, Product Manager, Google Apps told ET from Google's Mountain View headquarters. Won't saving a large amount of private documents of users, create legal issues for Google? "All documents are stored in an encrypted fashion, and only people with the document's weblink would be allowed to view or edit," he says.
The Cloud Connect initiative by Google is a step ahead of its Docs offering, which failed to pick up enthusiasm in many markets, as people are still hooked on to MS Office applications. Microsoft holds almost 90% market share in Office applications. The advantage Cloud Connect toolbar offers users is that, once synced, all MS Office data sitting in a home or office PC, can be accessed from anywhere in the world through iPads, smartphones or PCs.
" It's a conversion strategy, get people hooked on the capability so that they move completely to Google Apps and stop paying for two licenses (one Microsoft, one Google)," says Forrester analyst TJ Keitt.
Microsoft's Office applications generate a Google weblink for each document saved on Google's servers, once embedded with a toolbar. For groups, wanting to share work, Cloud Connect offers collaborative editing. All revisions by each user of the document is saved.
"Every 5 seconds, someone in the world is downloading a cloud connect toolbar, since it got launched on Feb 25th, this year," says Mr Sinha. "There is no need for enterprises now to install costly Microsoft Office upgrades. They can directly work and store on the cloud," he adds.
Google's strategy behind launching a Cloud initiative for MS Office, is a direct challenge to Microsoft, and its supremacy in the world of Office documents, which none have been able to challenge as yet. Open Office, Neo Office, IBM Lotus Symphony have not been able to succeed in the market despite being free.
"We also have our Office Live service on the cloud much before than Google's offerings," says James Utzschneider, General Manager for Strategy in Microsoft's Sales, Marketing, and Services Group at Redmond. He defends the desktop computing model as well. "A large number of PC users in the world are unconnected. Though cloud is becoming a phenomenon, a large number of users will be desktop based." Mr Utzschneider leads a team responsible for Microsoft's worldwide marketing efforts around open source and emerging technologies.
Microsoft's sales from its Office system has been declining since two years, from about $18 billion in 2008 to $17.7 billion in 2010. Already in its annual financial statement, Microsoft has claimed competition from Google as a risk factor to its Office sales.
"Competitors to the Microsoft Office system may be from companies such as Google, Adobe, Apple, Corel, IBM, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat and Zoho. Google provides a hosted messaging and productivity suite that competes with our Office, Exchange, SharePoint, including its fast enterprise search technology," it had said in the review.
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