Google Attacks Microsoft With Cloud Connect
Google has made its Cloud Connect plug-in for Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 generally available.
The software allows Office users to upload and synchronize their Office documents with their Google account and edit and share Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files via Google Docs. The plug-in install itself as a menu bar in the Office UI from where a user can sync and share a document.
We had a chance to take Cloud Connect for a quick spin and were impressed, but found a few rough edges, including a missing option to switch accounts with just one click. While Google says that documents are seamlessly synced up and down, our 2007-Cloud Connect tandem synced only into the cloud, but not from the cloud down to our local computers. If you consider using Cloud Connect, especially for Excel and PowerPoint, we highly recommend reading through the supported and unsupported features list as complex features in spreadsheets and fancy animations may not survive the cloud procedure.
What works, however, is the simplicity of Cloud Connect. Microsoft seems to be going cloud all the way with Office 365 and it isn't quite clear yet how local Office software will be integrated. The other option is Office Live, which works in combination with Microsoft's Skydrive cloud storage as well as Windows Live Essentials 2011/Windows Live Mesh 2011. However, the Microsoft approach is much more complicated and requires an entire setup procedure and is limited to certain file folders that are synced, whereas Cloud Connect targets every Office document that is created (users can manually sync or have Google sync documents automatically.)
Cloud Connect is Google's strategy to take a slice from Microsoft's office pie. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts.