Print 19 comment(s) - last by UsernameX.. on Apr 14 at 11:37 AM

Updates mean offline access is removed for now

Microsoft Office is the dominant player in productivity apps in the business world. The office suite has more users than any other software platform and Google is trying to take some of the users of Office away though with its cloud offerings including Google Docs.

Microsoft is set to launch its newest iteration of the Office productivity suite this year with Office 2010. Microsoft first talked about Office 2010 last year and the products are expected to ship in the first half of 2010. Pricing for the Office suite was unveiled in January 2010 with full Professional versions costing as much as $499. The high price of the software is what has many firms looking to cloud-based offerings from Google that are much cheaper and offer free upgrades.

Google has updated its Docs software with a number of new features and has taken one key feature for many users out of the picture. Google announced on its official blog that the new Docs service was unveiled this week at its first-ever Atmosphere cloud computing event. The new changed to Google Docs includes new document and spreadsheet features. 

Changes to the document software, the Google version of Word, include a new margin ruler, better numbering and bullets, and better image placement options. One key update is that the Google Docs software can now import documents directly from Word and keep the original formation so users don’t have to fix issues with bullets and formatting. This is a big feature because many businesses will continue to use Microsoft Office and will go between it and Google Docs as employees work.

Google reports that it also made general speed and responsiveness upgrades to the cloud-based offering with faster JavaScript processing. Large spreadsheets are now easy to work with in the browser and feel like they are being edited on the desktop. Collaboration features were also a big area of focus in the updates.

The collaboration feature in Docs now supports up to 50 people working on a single document at once and the changes made by other users can be seen as they happen character-by-character.
InformationWeek reports that changes made by other users previously took as long as 15 seconds to show up in the document. That delay often lead to overlapping changes and confusion in a collaborative environment.

The big feature that Google has cut from the Docs offering is offline support. 
EWeek reports that starting on May 3, offline support for Google docs will be temporarily removed. Exactly how long the temporary removal of offline support will last is unknown. Offline access was added in April of 2008.

Google's Anil Sabharwal told 
eWeek, "We believe the impact [of removing offline access] will be minimal. However, we do believe this is a critical part of the story and we are working diligently to bring it back and provide an improved offline experience using HTML5 and other modern browser technologies." 

The new speed and features of Google Docs lean heavily on HTML5 and Google believes it can offer all the features needed for the productivity suite via HTML5 coding.

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RE: Key word here
By Jeff7181 on 4/13/2010 11:48:50 AM , Rating: 2
Does it really? It seems they're targeting business mostly, and what business doesn't have a constant Internet connection? If individuals want a free Office Suite, there's still Open Office.

RE: Key word here
By djc208 on 4/13/2010 12:13:02 PM , Rating: 3
All those business people on airplaines?

People on laptops that don't have wifi access or a 3G modem (or coverage).

RE: Key word here
By zinfamous on 4/13/2010 1:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
this is becoming less of an issue. 2 out of the last 3 flights I took, small startups were offering free access during the flight.

I'm sure these services will be ubiquitous within the next 2-3 years. Paid, most likely; but the access will be there.

RE: Key word here
By JediJeb on 4/13/2010 1:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
You probably got better access on those flights then we get at our company on the ground, which is kinda sad actually.

RE: Key word here
By Yames on 4/13/2010 12:25:56 PM , Rating: 5
Who wants their sensitive documents in Google's cloud?

RE: Key word here
By Mitch101 on 4/13/2010 2:26:12 PM , Rating: 3
Especially if you live in China. :p

RE: Key word here
By Aikouka on 4/13/2010 2:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
You're right in that people don't want their documents just lying around, but I'm not even sure how Google stores the documents. If they allow a paid feature to enable encryption of documents and a method to tie into corporate networks ( not entirely sure about this... but what's another username/password for us cubical workers? ;) ), it could be enticing to some corporate users.

I've had the pleasure of using corporate document management applications and honestly... they're usually very slow and incredibly hard to find anything. I know when I needed a document, I'd typically just ask for a direct link! If Google can improve upon this, then they may have a worthwhile product.

RE: Key word here
By Motoman on 4/13/2010 7:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
No one with a brain in their head. Whether business or personal.

RE: Key word here
By UsernameX on 4/14/2010 11:37:19 AM , Rating: 2
Just make sure your computer is secured properly, if you use an internet connection where your sensitive documents are stored.

RE: Key word here
By rocky12345 on 4/13/2010 12:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
yes it does really fail. How many businesses are going to want thier sensitive data stored online not many I would assume & those that do are risking a lot. But then again it is up to the end user if they want to go this route or not I guess hey its free after all can't be bad of its free eh!!

RE: Key word here
By JediJeb on 4/13/2010 1:39:49 PM , Rating: 3
Well internet service here is sometimes hit or miss. We can go hours or rarely days at a time with slow or no internet connection. The only high speed we have is AT&T DSL at the moment and for business it stinks. Not every business is located in the downtown of major cities and high speed internet does not reach all businesses so until then the cloud is not a good idea for us.

RE: Key word here
By JediJeb on 4/13/2010 1:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and I really wish I could convince our IT guy that Open Office is not evil. But he thinks that if he can't call up support it isn't a good idea to use it. Like anyone ever really uses tech support for Office here either. Heck he even blocked the Open Office site so noone can download it even to take home and use.

RE: Key word here
By Chaser on 4/13/2010 2:03:21 PM , Rating: 4
Good luck on that. I happen to like Open Office too. I'm an "IT guy" for a large company. If it's not users lecturing me about how Linux is far more stable and fault free or how Macs are far more safe from viruses, I hear it all day long.

Your I.T. guy and your company have far more to take into consideration than a single app that "works better than Office" or whatever a user is repeating from his "neigborhood I.T. genius" or a family member.

All applications on a company's image have to play nicely and be supported in case of problems that could arise. Try calling someone when Open Office conflicts with your finance Dept's accounting applications.

But that's what home computers are for. Only your own personal risk. Download all you like and try them to your hearts content.

RE: Key word here
By bodar on 4/13/2010 4:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Another big point is: does OO support centralized, silent updates? Can it be managed with Group Policy?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but it's part of what the IT Dept has to consider. It's the IE vs FF/Chrome debate all over again.

RE: Key word here
By fic2 on 4/13/2010 2:13:08 PM , Rating: 4
A friend of mine had his google account hacked. He still can't get access to it through the google no-support support. From reading a forum of people that have had theirs hacked it seems some of them never get their account back. If they do all of their "cloud" data has been blown into the wind. Who would trust that?

RE: Key word here
By Proxes on 4/13/2010 5:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
If this is targeted towards business than it's for the ones that can't afford the MS Office licenses. Any medium to large business with a sense of security and privacy policies would know something like this is way too risky.

We have a client that demands their servers and network gear be kept in its own racks while in our server room. If we wanted to set up a new service for them and other clients we can't even put the databases on the same server.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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