Google Docs takes the next step towards becoming a true document management system. Google has just announced that it will start rolling out the ability for users to store documents of any file type within the system. And you won't have to convert your files to do it.
Storing Your All Your Files in Google Docs
Following the announcement of shared folders in Google Docs, the news has broken that you will be able to use Google Docs for storing files of any type. This is not the rumored GDrive, but you will be able to upload any file you like -- as long as it's less than 250MB --- to Google Docs and securely share it.
Google is doing this they say to eliminate the need to email files to yourself and store your content on thumb drives, etc... when you are traveling. Storing these files within Google Docs also enables you to always have the most up to date version, as you can share access to them with other users.
And although you don't have to convert these uploaded files to Google's format, they do see this as an opportunity to show you how nice Google Apps is for creating, managing and collaborating on files, especially when you add in one of their most recent features: Share.
Nice But Limited
So this is a nice feature. A good way to manage your information on line, but Google is limiting you to 1GB of storage for files not converted to their format. You can buy additional space at US$ 0.25 per GB per year, but that doesn't make everyone happy.
Note that if you have previously purchased space for Picasa web albums, according to a Google rep, this will count towards your storage space for Docs.
Microsoft themselves has taken measures to point out that while this may be nice for Google, they offer a much better storage option with Windows SkyDrive (25GB of cloud-based storage space for free to be exact). And their storage option will also be available for Office Web Apps ...when it finally arrives.
It's interesting to note that Gmail also provides much more space, allowing users to email files to that account and have them available online as well. The difference here is the actual size of the file that can be attached to a Gmail email.
More Features for Paying Customers
Over on the Google Apps Premiere Edition side of the house, more functionality is available via the Google Documents List Data API. This will allow you to upload documents in batch or use 3rd party applications for file synchronization.
Google has partnered with at least 3 companies for this advanced functionality:
- Memeo Connect for Google Apps A new desktop application that offers an easy way to access, migrate and synchronize files with Google Docs across multiple computers. (PC and Mac)
- Syncplicity An automated back-up and file management tool for Google Docs. (PC)
- Manymoon Is an online project management platform for organizing and sharing tasks and documents with coworkers and partners, including uploading files to Google Docs.
Closing in on the Competition?
The fact that you can now store Microsoft formatted documents within Google is an important move, as Microsoft continues to be the defacto standard for office documents.
The question remains, however, when will Google allow you to work on Office documents within Google Docs directly? Because this may be the very thing that will turn the tide in Google's favor.