It seems that hardly a day goes by without Google making some sort of progress in its Apps. The latest notable update is with the Toolbar version 3 (in beta). Beyond helpful browsing knickknacks, the toolbar now loads Microsoft Office documents directly into Google's Docs & Spreadsheets application.
Big deal you say? Its not so much the "what" as it is the "how" that's got our attention.After installing Google Firefox Toolbar 3 and activating the Docs and Spreadsheets functionality, you'll notice that you now have both browser and desktop integration between Microsoft Office documents and Google's Apps & Spreadsheets online office and collaboration applications. Docs & Spreadsheets Integration The file type integration is, for now, geared towards Google's Write and Spreadsheets online applications. Available file extension associations include: .doc, .rtf, .odt, .sxw, .xls, .ods, and .csv. This is none to shabby a start, and a start that must be rattling cages in certain Oregon localities. Merry Christmas Microsoft, from your dearest chum, Uncle Google. File Types & Actions The integration functionality works a few different ways. You can open Microsoft Office documents as you stumble upon them while surfing. You can drag documents into the browser window and have them auto load into G's online office tools. And most interestingly and aggressively you can configure the browser toolbar such that any double click on a MS Word or MS Excel document -- anywhere on your local machine -- automagically loads the document into Google's Apps & Spreadsheets software.
Pretty darn fancy if you ask us. This is a big step forward for the Apps suite and a clear indication (as if we needed one) that Google plans to bridge the desktop much further, in the near term.
Some additional integration perks of interest include automatically saving the opened files in your Apps & Spreadsheets online file database and supporting document collaboration via the normal Google Apps collaboration features. Toolbar 3 also has added the ability to download bookmarks from any computer, add custom buttons, and share web pages via Blogger, GMail, and SMS. A final twist of the knife in MS Office's side is a small checkbox which allows you to set GMail as the default email client for any email links you might click on while browsing. Hasta luego Outlook.
Right now Google Toolbar 3 beta is only available for Firefox (on Mac, PC, and Linux) but with things developing quickly in the Google's IE7 space, expect the Toolbar to be universal in short time.
Google Toolbar 3 beta is available here.