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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 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.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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