Google Cloud Connect brings MS Office files to Google's cloud

If you're using Windows, that is.

Google launched their Cloud Connect product in a limited beta late last year, hoping to take advantage of the high cost of upgrades from Office 2007 to Office 2010. After all, Office 2007 was pretty good and who needs all those Microsoft collaboration features if they're built into Google Docs, right?

Of course, if you're an avid Office user, then you know that Office 2010 is absolutely worth the upgrade, especially when combined with their hosted or on-premise collaboration solutions. However, if you just create documents or bang away on spreadsheets or live for DBP (Death by PowerPoint), then all the nifty doodads in Office 2010 don't mean much. For these users, Google is happy to help them automatically load standard Office documents into Google's cloud and enable collaboration via Google Docs. On Thursday, Google announced that this feature was available in all Google Apps domains, giving legions of Office-using, fence-sitting, Google Apps-dabbling users Nicorette for their desktop applications.

According to the Google Blog,

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is now available to download for all Google Apps domains. With this plugin, you can now share, backup and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint®, and Excel® documents with co-workers without the need for sending attachments back and forth.

Features: - Simultaneous editing for Word, PowerPoint and Excel files when using Microsoft Office. - Google Docs sharing URLs for each Microsoft Office file. - Revision history for Microsoft Office files, stored in Google Docs. - Offline editing with smart synchronization of offline changes. - No Microsoft Office upgrade or SharePoint® deployment required.

That last line is really the kicker. Let me paraphrase: "For $50 a year, we'll give you the functionality of SharePoint and BPOS and you get to keep that Office 2007 software you've grown to know and love. Learning curves are for the weak-willed."

Actually not a bad message, to be honest. $50 a year won't buy you SharePoint and Office upgrades. Not that SharePoint is just about document collaboration. It's about enterprise collaboration and is remarkably good at it. However, for organizations who were on the fence about Google Apps, this could be the one little shove into Google's camp that decision-makers might need.

One caveat? Mac users need not apply:

Note: Google Cloud Connect is not available for Macs. Unfortunately due to the lack of support for open APIs on Microsoft Office for Mac, we are unable to make Google Cloud Connect available on Macs at this time. We look forward to when that time comes so we can provide this feature to our Mac customers as well.

But artsy Mac users can probably figure out how to just use Google Apps, right?