The official release of Office 365 is expected today. Over the past week, there has been a lot of activity in the office productivity suite space, particularly with Google, which should see some interesting times ahead when Office goes to market. Laserfiche made its document management software mobile on the iPad, and AIIM says SharePoint users are still looking to third-party vendors.

Google Docs, Box Integrate

A case in question is the announcement earlier this week that Box (news, site) and Google Docs are providing deep integration between the two platforms.

What this means in practice is that the 6 million users who are currently using Box  -- Box’s figures -- will be able to apply Google’s real-time, concurrent editing to the more than 50 million Word and Excel files already stored on Box.

This is a good marketing strategy for both companies. We’ve already noted in the past that Google has been building up Docs without much fuss. Just about every week, we get something new that adds to its capabilities, and although it has still a way to go to compete with Office, it’s slowly getting there.

For Box, the integration shows the real muscle behind the platform. Office 365 doesn’t as yet allow for third-party integrations, Box does, and this is likely to be a decisive selling point in the future. Check it out.

Upgrades to Cloud Connect

Another example of the Google vs. Microsoft competition is this week’s announcement that Google has made it easier to use Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.

With Cloud Connect, you’ll be able to sneak documents out of Office and work on them in Google Docs. The Cloud Connect announcement is not a newbie -- Google announced the beta last November and went to general release in February. It's just that, now, it has made the software a lot easier to use, in the run up to the Office 365 release.

Google Cloud Connect bridges Office and Google Docs, allowing users to operate the Office interface with Google Docs features, the result of the acquisition of DocVerse back in March 2010, and supporting Word, PowerPoint and Excel. We’re not saying it’s sneaky, but really…! Is this a sign of things to come between Microsoft and Google? Interested in more?

Google Docs Offline?

And Google didn’t stop there. The Google Online/Offline saga looks set to be resolved soon, adding more functionality to Docs. Word is that Google is reportedly testing -- again -- offline support for its cloud-based Docs service.

Screenshots leaked over the past few days suggest that offline support is already in the works. Several "offline mode" features have been appearing, and observers note that this might be the promised holy grail of cloud-based document management.

At a Reddit Q&A discussion thread, Google Docs product manager Jeff Harris confirms that "offline [will] start to roll out later this summer." Check it out here.

Laserfiche Mobile Released

Meanwhile, Laserfiche (news, site) announced it is going mobile. The new iPhone app provides on-the-go content management that enables mobile users to view and approve workplace documents, as well as capture and upload new documents with the iPhone camera.

Using the iPhone's touch screen, gesture recognition and high-resolution interface to provide an immersive user experience. With Laserfiche Mobile, users can:

  • Create and upload new content with the iPhone camera
  • Crop, straighten and enhance captured information, with text recognition
  • Copy, move, rename, download, e-mail, print or delete content
  • Browse for documents in a folder structure or search the repository
  • Participate in workflow automation processes by accessing metadata fields

Even better, Laserfiche Mobile, which includes a built-in demonstration, is available for free download from the Apple App Store. It operates with Laserfiche Web Access as a part of Laserfiche Avante and Laserfiche Rio systems.

Are Users Happy with SharePoint 2010?

Research during the week from AIIM (news, site) indicates that, despite content management functionality improvements in the 2010 version of SharePoint, third-party add-ons and integrations are still popular with users.

Although only 34% of organizations are currently using add-on products for BPM, workflow, classification, security, back-up and records archive, this figure is set to rise to over 75%,

Records management in particular is highlighted in the survey, with many organizations seeing the need to add or integrate a more robust repository to meet their compliance requirements. Albeit from a much smaller base, e-Discovery, digital signature and case-management add-ons are set for strong growth.

The reason for this is that many of the traditional ECM applications, such as scanning and capture, forms processing, document workflow and RM (Records Management), have yet to be widely adopted. Interested in more?

WatchDox’s Private Cloud Option

Finally, WatchDox (news, site), a provider of document control, tracking and protection solutions, has announced the availability of an on-premise solution offering the same rich feature set and ease-of-use as its SaaS solution.

WatchDox’s virtual appliance addresses the needs of organizations that are required to meet specialized, strict security and privacy requirements by building private clouds.

With private cloud and virtual appliance options, WatchDox secure document sharing and virtual data room solutions fills a previously unmet need in the government, public sector and financial industries.

WatchDox now includes advanced, scalable document security with no hardware or software installation, while the private cloud option gives organizations their own dedicated server infrastructures that are not shared with any other customer.

It has also updated its mobile application for the iPhone and iPad and recently announced plans to support additional platforms, including BlackBerry. Interested in more?