Just read a sponsored blog post about DocVerse, a new plug-in for Microsoft Office. This would essentially give Word, Excel and PowerPoint the kind of collaborative networking functions that Google Docs has.
This, of course, calls attention to another aspect in which Office is lacking. This plug in is an effort to chase Google’s tail, as they have created a better product, but one that fewer people use.
That’s the rub, of course: Established businesses won’t soon switch to Google Docs for documents and presentations, because they have those Office licenses to pay for. It’s a choice between the better product, and the more universal one.
I’ve worked in an office that used both. When creating documents solo, Office was the choice, just because it was there and had more functionality. (Google keeps improving Docs, though, so this won’t be the case forever.)
On the other hand, when it was a collaborative effort, Google Docs worked seamlessly. I wouldn’t use it as often to create the document I’d share, but I would upload it to Docs to get everyone looking at it and making comments/changes.
So this plug-in is a good idea, but it only addresses one of Office’s problems. The bigger ones are the changes they make to it which confuse everyone upon release. I only just figured out Office 2007, and now they’re going to drop Office 2010 on my head. Then I’ll have to re-learn all those things Excel now does, and no longer does, while still on the clock. (Actually, now that I think of it, this is a plug-in for Office 2007. Does anyone know if collaborative tools will be baked into Office 2010 anyway? Microsoft does have a shady history of stealing ideas from the companies that build software for their platforms.)
I think Google Docs will remain a strong choice for the new, small business, as their suite is less expensive, and does as much and more than Office. Office will stick around until cloud computing makes it unnecessary. And that won’t happen until we get the mythical “Internet 2” up and running, which can then allow Coca-cola and IBM to dial into Google’s servers without constantly choking.
What DocVerse spells out for me is Microsoft’s inability to keep up with what users want. Meanwhile Google, with their Docs and Wave tools, and their considerably deep pockets, are taking the opportunity to steal M$’ lunch. They already do most everything Microsoft does, just better. Now it’s just a matter of winning over the mind share.