Google's latest effort to lure business customers away from Microsoft Office to Google Apps comes in the form of a plug-in for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The plug-in essentially syncs Office files with an online counterpart that lives in Google Docs, which allows users to always see the most recent version of a file, whether they're viewing it in a browser, in an Office app or even on a mobile device.
That means no more emailing a Word document between multiple people, only to be confused about which is the most recent. It means being able to see, in real time, as your colleague updates the sales figures in your spreadsheet — while you're working on it. It means being able to literally drop an image into your colleague's PowerPoint presentation.
And, to sweeten the pot, the company is also launching a 90-day "Appsperience" program, which allows companies to test the waters, if you will, with Google Apps. For a fee — US$7000 for companies with less than 500 employees and US$15,000 for those with more — the company is providing use of the Apps, as well as access to a support network, as well as a new analytics dashboard that compares usage in the cloud against usage on legacy apps and more.
It's almost like an overdue coming-of-age realisation for Google, an acknowledgement that Microsoft's install base is so massive that companies needed a smarter way to transition to Apps. The company has been gaining ground with its Apps offerings — as well as enhancing its suite — for years. But it has struggled to sell some companies, including larger, more traditional companies, on the benefits of web-based apps.