With the Bing spat still ringing in our ears, the next little tiff looks set to be about Google’s Cloud Connect for Office and Microsoft’s response to it. Email use is exploding, while eXpresso is offering document collaboration on LotusLive. LibreOffice has also been busy.

Google’s Cloud Connect Release

Microsoft (news, site) and Google are fighting again, this time over office applications. Google announced late last week that it was going to general release with a Google Cloud Connect plugin that syncs Microsoft Office with Google Docs, essentially keeping both the cloud and local files the same.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is now available to download for all Google Apps domains. With this plugin, you can now share, backup and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents with co-workers without the need for sending attachments back and forth.

The initial release of Cloud Connect strategically took place at the same time Microsoft announced Office 2010. Google hoped Microsoft users looking to save money would prefer the Internet giant's cost-effective alternative. Interested in more?

Microsoft Finds Holes in Connect?

However, Microsoft was not going to just take that sitting down, especially with the May release of Office 2010 last year and, more important, the upcoming release of Office365 that will include an online version of just about any office app from Microsoft that you could possibly want.

We’ve already reported extensively on the often nasty spat between the two over Bing. This one could be heading in the same direction. In a blog post just after Google made the announcement, Microsoft said that, while Cloud Connect was probably quite good, it just wasn’t good enough.

It argues that there are three basic problems -- including issues with data privacy: Some of the Office functions are not present, document integrity is not great with shared documents and, third, it’s easy to lose data using it.

It’s quite remarkable how the three things that it cites as the biggest problems for Cloud Connect are three of the most frequently cited reasons across enterprises for not moving to the cloud. Indeed, even mention data loss to most companies and you have to apply the smelling salts to whole IT departments.

So where does the truth lie? It’s absolutely impossible to tell without using both extensively, which shouldn’t be a problem at the Google end as you can download and test it for free from Google.

However, it is unlikely that this will be the end of the story. If you go looking hard enough at any piece of software, you’re going to find problems. As the year progress and as Google updates its Docs app while Microsoft works on Office365, it’s not entirely out of the question that a spat similar to the "Bing Thing" will result. You just gotta love competition. Check out the blog post.

Email Use Jumps

Moving away from office applications to applications that are used in the office -- the problems associated with document management and email look like they can only get worse as the use of email continues to grow.

In Britain alone, the number of emails sent in the first half of 2010 rose to 1.7 billion, representing a 50% increase over the number of messages mailed in the equivalent period of 2009, as demand for email services soared.

Even with this level of emailing, open rates remain at around 24% for retention email messages and 11% for acquisition email messages. In another study, which has also just come out, it shows that 80% of SME decision makers prefer initial marketing contact by email instead of face-to-face meetings, direct mail, SMS or the telephone. More on this to come later.

eXpresso Offers LotusLive Doc Collaboration

If you missed it earlier, document collaboration specialist eXpresso has announced that its document collaboration software is now available on LotusLive.

eXpresso software enables multiple users to create, edit and share documents simultaneously without compromising the native feature-functionality of whatever editor they happen to be using.

For users, from functionality level, the advantages are quite clear, not least of which is the ability to work from within LotusLive. But pricewise, the advantages are even clearer. After a trial period offered as part of LotusLive trials, users can sign up for the not-so-princely sum of US$ 1 per user per month.

How this will compete with Microsoft’s Web Office suite, especially after Office365 is launched later this year, or with Google Docs, for example, remains to be seen, but it is still cheap enough to be well worth a look. Interested in more?

LibreOffice’s Release Schedule

Finally, the Document Foundation (news, site) has announced the release of LibreOffice 3.3.1, the first micro-release of the free office suite born to compete with Open Office.

The release fixes several bugs and crashes affecting Windows, Linux and MacOS X.

LibreOffice 3.3 was our very first stable release, and the feedback from users has been extremely positive . . . We have managed to troubleshoot a large number of bugs within a very short time, in order to maintain our enterprising release schedule,” says Thorsten Behrens, one of the developers with a seat on the Steering Committee.

And speaking of release schedules, LibreOffice says there will be another minor release in a month, before the second feature release in early May.