Yesterday I visited the Google Australia Headquarters in Sydney for a breifing on some new announcements around the Google Apps platform.

In particular, Google have made a significant announcement of a new peice of software – a plugin actually – GOOGLE CLOUD CONNECT for Microsoft Office.

Google Cloud Connect will allow you to save your documents ‘to the cloud’ directly from Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint – so you can then view them in your Google Docs library online from any computer – Plus, most importantly, another user with Google Cloud Connect installed on their Microsoft Office Software can share the document with you in an almost complete collaborative environment.

Google Cloud Connect Toolbar

I’ve been a Paying Google Apps Premier account holder for many years now, and I’ve been tempted by Google Docs on many occasions – but, I seem to always be drawn back away from the cloud because of my continued use of Microsoft Office, and therefore saving locally was just easy!

Now, with Google Cloud Connect, when I click SAVE on Microsoft Word, the Google Cloud Connect toolbar immediately syncronises the document to my Google Docs file list/library.

Google say this is going to help enterprise users make the transition to Google Docs – I think they have a long way to go though.  What this will do is help those core Google users (like me) to better utilise the Cloud based document storage so that in time I’ll just feel its easy to make the complete switch – plus, I’ll be an advocate in my workplace for the enterprise solution.

This is, at its heart, another masterstroke by Google – Bringing their cloud storage into Microsoft’s key product is a real coup for them in terms of development – I know I’ll be storing a lot more in the cloud now.

The irony of this is Microsoft’s intense TV marketing campaign around “To the Cloud”  – who’d have thought we’d be using Microsoft Office products to go “to the cloud” with Google?

A few problems.  Firstly, it’s not Mac Compatible.  Google say that’s because the Mac version of Office doesn’t “allow” for the integration of the PC version. 

Secondly, Collaboration must be between Office users.  You can’t yet collaborate with one person on Office and another using Google Docs online – I have no doubt that is next to come.

Google has an impressive collaboration tool in Google Docs.  I must admit having never done live collaboration online, but watching a demonstration today of two computers side by side linked by nothing but ‘the cloud’ and to see changes happen in real time on documents and presentations was impressive.  Plus the same shared collaboration is available on mobile platforms too.  This really is the future – the problem is getting people out of their Installed Software ways – and I’m as guilty as anyone on that count.

I have to say, this is a really impressive peice of integration, Microsoft may have Sharepoint, but that is a very expensive solution to roll out at an enterprise level, and it’s not even on the radar of the average users.  So, to create a ‘one click’ way to syncronise your local documents with your Google Docs storage is a win for the Development team at Google.

You can install Google Cloud Connect for Free, all you’ll need is a Google Apps acount, and Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 or 2010 on PC.

So, will this help you use the cloud (Google Docs) more for storage and collaboration?