Thanks to a new bridge between Docs and Microsoft office, Google is moving steadily forward through the holidays. Meanwhile, the scads of services recently added to Google Apps have opened shiny new doors for small businesses, and rumor has it that Chrome OS might make a 2010 appearance after all. 

Google Docs Connects with Microsoft Office (Finally)

If you can't decide between Google Docs and Microsoft Office, good news! Now you can remain in limbo a little bit longer. A new service called Google Cloud Connect bridges the two products directly, allowing users to operate the Office interface with Google Docs features.

The plugin is the fruit of Google’s acquisition of DocVerse back in March, and supports the MS Office trifecta:  Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Microsoft also offers a similar product, but it does not support Excel.

Here's how it works: Once installed, a new ribbon will appear toward the top of the Office UI, linking the document you’re currently working on to its twin in Google Docs. If you're editing a document in any of the three mentioned Office programs, it will automatically sync with your Google Docs account as soon as you click the 'Save' button (note: you must click 'Save' to sync, this is not a real-time feature):

google_cloud_connect.jpg

Not operating in real time presents collaboration challenges, of course, but the mighty Google has an answer to that as well. All in all, it's yet another reason to move to Google's cloud. Read more of the details here

Google Apps & the Consumeration of the Enterprise

As you  may have heard, Google recently added dozens of new services to Google Apps, expanding their availability beyond the individual consumer pool. AdWords, Analytics, DoubleClick, Feedburner, Reader and Voice are just to name a few of which can now be accessed through a new interface in the administrative control panel. 

These efforts certainly highlight the level of influence the consumer world continues to have on business, and there's a growing number of mid-size companies that are no longer shy about hopping on board. 

In the spirit of such consumeration, Google has renamed all of its versions of Google apps:

  • Google Apps (formerly known as Standard Edition) is a free service that targets families, entrepreneurs and other groups up to 50 users.
  • Google Apps for Business (formerly known as Premier Edition) provides 25GB of e-mail storage per user, data migration capabilities, management tools, added security and more for US$ 50 per user per year.
  • Google Apps for Government (formerly known as Government Edition) is FISMA certified and targets local, state and federal agencies.
  • Google Apps for Education (formerly known as Education Edition) offers many of the benefits of Google Apps for Business to universities and qualifying non-profits at no cost. 

Chrome OS In Time for Christmas?

Last week Google's CEO Eric Schmidt claimed the launch of Chrome OS wouldn't happen until Q1 2011, but new reports suggest that you shouldn't yet remove it from your Christmas wish list.

Google representatives are remaining tight-lipped as ever: "We're not going into details at this point," one such rep told TechCrunch. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported similar news:

I had a chance to ask the Googlers about Chrome OS recently, and was told that a preview version of Google OS is still going to hit this year and be available in test form on several new form factors.

Google released Chrome OS to open source this time last year, and, if all goes well, the highly anticipated operating system will arrive in beta sometime during December. In the meantime, the Internet giant has managed to continuously release the source code which can be compiled and used as an OS.