January 13, 2010
What Does Google Docs Want to be When it Grows Up?
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Full disclosure: This reporter uses Google (News - Alert) Docs almost exclusively. This reporter is using Google Docs to write this article.
Industry observer Anthony Ha notes that 'Googlers have been predicting that 2010 will be the year of Google Docs, as new features in the online word processor make it a viable alternative to Microsoft (News - Alert) Office.'
Google Docs users now have the ability to upload any file into Google Docs. As Ha notes, 'basically, this transforms Google Docs into a file storage system.' Ha says he already stores lots of files online as Google Docs-format documents, and 'now you can use Docs to store and share files in any format, such as a Microsoft Word document or a PDF. Files can be up to 250 megabytes in size, and you get up to 1 gigabyte total storage for free.'
The way Wired's Ryan Singel sees it, 'Google is now offering a small virtual hard drive in the cloud so you can access all sorts of files anywhere — the latest salvo in an arms race to become the dominant player in cloud services.'
This reporter was hoping 2010 would be the year of Google Wave, but it's so freakin' clunky and slow we're quietly shelving the cheerleading pom-poms and sticking our thumbs out for the next bandwagon to rattle past. Google Docs? Hey, we've been on that one for at least a year now:
Since January 2009, to be precise. Our Microsoft Office installation went blooey on deadline, we were 5,000 miles from home base and couldn't access the 428-digit security code, so we were desperate. We remembered an article we'd done on Google's Document feature, and used it to get the work done. We've stuck with it ever since.
Industry observer Jacqui Cheng notes that 'users of the Google Apps Premier Edition have the option of using third-party applications to migrate and sync files. This includes Memeo Connect for Google Apps, Syncplicity, or Manymoon, though it's clear from the comments of the original blog post that regular users would love Dropbox-like syncing functionality directly from Google.'
Having tried to submit professional invoices created on Google Docs, however, we're sorry to report that the program still doesn't play well with columns. We would need to keep Microsoft Word around for that alone. And we just tried uploading a reading list created in Word on two columns to a page, and found the same problem. So, there's still a few miles to go before we're throwing away Microsoft Office.
Ha thinks this 'should also make Google a more effective competitor against collaboration tools from companies large like Microsoft Sharepoint and small companies like Box.net,' while bemoaning the lack of robust collaboration tools -- among other issues, 'there’s no system for multiple team members to work on a Word document, the way you can with a Google Docs-format document.'
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi