Major update to Google Docs aims to bridge Apps and Office

At today's Atmosphere event on the Google campus, the company will unveil a major upgrade to Google Docs.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

It's not often Google rolls out a major update to one of its cloud products. After all, the company is quick to point out, when selling the benefits of its cloud software, that updates are just rolled out as they become available.

But today, the company is breaking its own rule with a major upgrade to Google Docs. In some ways, the upgrade is offering a more stable bridge between Google Apps and Microsoft's Office suite. In other ways, the update it's taking the online suite to a new level, incorporating collaboration tools, such as real-time chat.

Some of the new features may seem small - rulers and tab stops in documents, for example - but these are the sort of things that users have been asking for, the company said. As part of the update, the company will also introduce a new standalone software product, called Drawing. It's not new but, until now, it had been a tool inside the others.

The company did note that the new editors aren't compatible with Google Gears, which makes them accessible to offline access. But don't panic yet. The incompatibility doesn't apply to features like mail and calendar and Google says it is hard at work to restore offline access via other means.

The changes, which will be rolled out to users beginning today, are free and will be added to all user accounts, not just those of paying business customers.

The news is being announced as part of Atmosphere, a one-day event cloud computing event for CIOs, being held at the Google campus today. For some time now, Google has been aggressively targeting its cloud-based Google Apps at the enterprise, hosting events like these to spread the word on the strength of the suite, as well as the cost savings.

Google isn't talking cost savings with this update - but it is talking about how seamless the switch from Microsoft to Google can be, noting any improvement to its import/export tools.

Google invited me to attend today's event so I'll be posting from here throughout the day, offering more insight on ways that Google is trying to convince business customers to "Go Google."

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