Yesterday, Google announced Cloud Connect, aiming to embrace Microsoft Office as the preferred productivity environment for all Google Apps users. I think this is welcome news for many users who gain another way to share documents in whatever way they prefer. In fact, just last week, we were pleased to announce that the new Facebook Social Inbox would also offer users to ability view Microsoft files via the Office Web Apps with just one click from their Facebook email.
Oprah Moment - Holiday's Come Early
Google's announcement is sort of like an "Oprah Moment" for her favorite things and just in time for the holidays! As great as Cloud Connect is for users giving them more choice, I still think Google Docs Does Not Make Office Better and this announcement acknowledges Mountain View's struggle to figure out how to build a productivity suite that is business ready. I still believe the best way to collaborate is without messy connectors, add on's and after market parts. The momentum of Office 2010, Office Web Apps and Office 365 confirms that position.
In the announcement, Google said "people can continue to use the familiar Office interface, while reaping many of the benefits of web-based collaboration' (emphasis mine) validates that people like choice and prefer tools that provide a full experience like Microsoft Office. A few months back when they announced a back track on threaded conversations, I shared my view that this was also a radical moment that shows how challenging Google's take it or leave it set of features in the workplace has become. No one wants a lump of coal in their stocking!
Supporting more users means supporting more requirements. That leads to complexity of features which Google appears to openly dismiss. They almost revel in uniformity and simplicity, almost to a fault. So by fully embracing Office, they are in fact waving a white flag on their play to replace Office.
Dave Girouard once said, "We wouldn't ask people to get rid of Microsoft Office and use Google Docs because it is not mature yet."
Dave probably knows the reality that even their oldest customers still don't use Google Apps fully. Customers continue to defect - which is likely why Google's Enterprise division revenues have declined the last twp quarters according their the financial statements. It's also why Gartner has pegged their paying user base at just a few hundred thousand users after four years in the market! Cloud Connect is compelling and a welcome option to give Office users more choice. However it might signal some extra time off this season for the engineers who were building Docs as a replacement.