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Google wheels (another) Trojan App inside Microsoft Office

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Google has officially released its tool for turning Microsoft Office into an online Google collaboration machine.

In late November, Mountain View introduced a beta version of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, an Office plugin that lets users collaborate on Microsoft files via Google's backend infrastructure. Now, the plug is available to world+dog.

"You can edit a Word document’s table of contents from Dublin while coworkers adjust formatting and make revisions from Denver," the company says in a blog post entitled "Teach your old docs new tricks..."

"Instead of bombarding each other with attachments and hassling to reconcile people’s edits, your whole team can focus on productive work together."

The plug-in duplicates your Office files on Google Apps, Mountain View's online suite of Office-like applications. Once they're duplicated, users can edit them not only from Office but from Google's Apps as well, and all files are kept synchronized between the two suites. "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," Google has said.

Google demos the plug-in here:

The plug-in works with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, or 2010 running on Windows PCs. Google says it's unable to offer a version for the Mac because of "the lack of support for open APIs" on Microsoft Office for Mac. "We look forward to when that time comes so we can provide this feature to our Mac customers as well," the company says.

Google Cloud Connect is based on technology Mountain View acquired with the purchase of a three-year-old San Francisco startup known as DocVerse. In a blog post following the acquisition, DocVerse founders Shan Sinha and Alex DeNeui said they intended integrate their existing Office collaboration plug-in with Google Apps.

Yes, the technology is yet another way for Google to woo all those entrenched Microsoft Office users onto its new-age suite of online applications. Today, the company also introduced what it calls the 90-Day Appsperience program, so "businesses encumbered with 1990s technology can experience modern collaboration and the burst of productivity that’s possible now". No prize for guessing what 1990s technology the company refers to.

Under the program, you can use Google Apps for 90 days for a "nominal free", and you receive "hands-on support from Google experts". Dovetailing with Cloud Connect, Google Apps now offers a dashboard that lets IT admins track the use of online collaboration tools.

Google is determined to replace Microsoft Office inside the enterprise – especially of late. In November, Google sued the US Department of the Interior, claiming the federal agency didn't give Google a fair shot at winning the $49.3 million contract it awarded to Microsoft Office. And in December, it turned Gmail into a Microsoft Exchange backup service known as Google Message Continuity.

The latter is based on technology from Postini, the business email outfit Google purchase in 2007. If your Microsoft Exchange servers crash or you take them down for maintenance, the service lets your employees open up a browser and immediately switch to Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts.

Meanwhile, Google offers a plug-in that lets users access Google Apps from Outlook and another that turns Internet Explorer into Google Chrome. Before too long, you'll be able to use a Google version of every Microsoft application. We highly recommend the experience – if only because Microsoft gets very annoyed. ®

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