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With the upcoming releases of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010, Central Desktop (newssite) is busily pushing itself into the niche created by users that need the functionality but not the price tag. Last week it added Web Folders, this week it unveiled CentralDesktop For Office that greatly enhances document collaboration for Office users.

Due for release next month -- at around the same time Office 2010 goes on the shelves -- as a cloud-enabled collaboration tool, Central Desktop For Office(CDO) enables groups of users to work on the same documents at the same time.

Working with Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, users can all contribute and edit the documents with CentralDesktop producing a final version that includes all the changes made by all users.

CentralDesktop For SMBs

Aimed specifically at the SMB market, CDO is being marketed as just another component of CentralDesktop’s strategy of offering SharePoint functionality across the enterprise at prices that small companies can afford.

While Microsoft (news, site) is offering co-authoring capabilities in the upcoming release of Office 2010, Central Desktop is providing the same feature without requiring the costly upgrade to both SharePoint and Office 2010.

While Microsoft is offering co-authoring capabilities in the upcoming release of Office 2010, Central Desktop is providing the same feature without requiring the costly upgrade to both SharePoint and Office 2010,” Isaac Garcia, CEO of Central Desktop said.

And in this case it doesn’t mean that companies are going to be passing up on Office 2010, as it lacks Microsoft’s new Office Web Apps file viewer and editor. However, it does work with Office editions going back as far as 2003 and up to Office 2010, which will attract some attention from companies that don’t want the expense of upgrades.

Collaboration Toolbar

Built using OffiSync, which enhances Microsoft Office by adding a new toolbar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the advantage of CDO is that users no longer need to download documents onto their PC to work on them, as they have been forced to do until now.

Instead, users will be able to work on documents in the cloud and from Office effectively doing away with the ‘check-in, check out' system that meant only one user could work on a document at a time. Once the final version with all the changes is completed, it can be saved in the cloud as the most up-to-date document version.

Other collaboration features include the ability to comment on files, manage subscribers and track version history.

Since its creation in 2005 CentralDesktop has attracted 400,000 end-users, of which about 130,000 use the paid version in some 3,000 companies. With CentralDesktop for Office and the release of Office 2010 next month that it might be just the ticket for SMBs looking to avoid expensive upgrades.