Google this week unveiled a limited beta test for its upcoming Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office tool, giving its customers a way to utilize its Google Docs service with Microsoft's popular Office suite in a fairly seamless fashion. The tool is billed as a way for Google customers to more easily migrate, over time, from Microsoft Office to the less capable (but free) Google Docs.
"Google Docs \\[is\\] 100% web: It provides real-time collaboration in the browser, with no software to install, manage or upgrade," Google Group Product Manager Shan Sinha wrote in a blog post announcing the tool. "With Cloud Connect, people can continue to use the familiar \\[Microsoft\\] Office \\[applications\\], while reaping many of the benefits of web-based collaboration that Google Docs users already enjoy."
Google Cloud Connect works with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, and 2010, providing users with a way to sync documents to Google's Docs-based services. Because these documents are stored in the cloud, they can be accessed from anywhere, using multiple devices, and they can be shared with others—each document gets a unique URL—and retain a version history.
Google Cloud Connect is a rebranded version of DocVerse, which Google purchased back in March. It's currently available only in a limited beta, but you can sign up to be notified when the tool is more broadly available.
In many ways, Google Cloud Connect is part of Google's response to the recently-announced Microsoft Office 365 service, which provides businesses of all sizes with affordable access to hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync servers as well as web- or full-client versions of Microsoft Office 2010. My hands-on overview of Office 365 will be available today on the SuperSite for Windows.