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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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Free for now.
By Uncle on 4/13/2010 6:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
I'm probably wrong, but for years MS and others, would like to ween us off of software and going subscription based, I think this is a long term strategy that they still have in mind. If they can just break this barrier in our thinking about the safety of cloud. Personally I think we should fight tooth and nail against anything that takes our work and leisure and stores it somewhere other then our home or business. Young people are so excepting of giving away their privacy rights to some unknown,like facebook etc.




RE: Free for now.
By fic2 on 4/13/2010 6:23:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. They would really like to have everyone paying yearly or monthly for something we currently buy once every 5 or so years. Although companies already buy yearly licenses anyway so they don't care as much.

Then something happens like with the "cloud" phone where all or most of "your" data disappeared. I forget who makes it and who keeps the servers.

Then they will do something like what Facebook did and proclaim that all the info you wrote belongs to them.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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