Google Smacks MS Office With Better Docs Collaboration

Google is making it even easier to move from Microsoft Office to Google Docs.

At last month’s Google I/O conference, Google gave Office users the ability to edit documents in Docs, which was one of the sticking points for those considering a jump to Google.

We didn’t think it could do much more to make Docs attractive, but it has. Like last month’s QuickOffice integration, this enhancement is small but significant. The upgrade comes in the shape of tracking changes.

Tracking Document Changes

If you’re puzzled why this has impact on whether you moved from Office to Google Docs, it’s explained in a blog post by Alan Warren, vice president, engineering at Google Docs.

It works like this. If you been working and collaborating on documents through Microsoft Office, you will probably have made liberal use of the tracking function. This enables you to track the edits and changes that have been made by collaborators on a given document.

Those edits or collaborator comments have been difficult to follow and don’t transfer from Office into Docs. That is until now. With the new functionality any edits or comments will be transferred directly into Docs.

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"While you no longer have to convert Microsoft Word files to Docs (thanks to the recent QuickOffice integrations), if you do, starting today any tracked changes in a .docx file will be automatically carried over to Docs as Suggested Edits. Once you’ve imported your changes, you can begin immediately collaborating with your colleagues in real-time, “ Warren writes.

Suggested Edits in Docs also enables you accept or reject changes with a single click. This feature is available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the web and is coming soon to Google mobile apps.

Google Docs and Microsoft Office

But why is this such a big deal? Well, actually, on its own, it's not. However, combined with the changes that Google introduced at I/O last month it takes Google Docs a step further towards being an effective and relatively inexpensive collaboration application.

Last month’s changes made it possible to edit Office files directly in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, meaning users can open and edit those documents in their native format using Office Compatibility Mode. With it, there is no need to buy additional software — including Microsoft Office.

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Google Docsc suggested edits

By enabling business users take real time tracking into Docs, Google is creating a real choice for business users. OK, so Google Docs — or even Drive and Apps — don’t really stand up to the functionality of Office or Office 365. Nor does Google have the immediate interface user recognition that Microsoft has going for it as a result of its deep historical roots in the enterprise.

However, we saw earlier this year that for a lot of business users that Office is overkill: Many users only use one or two applications from either product.

Google has been upping the ante here with new functionality. Microsoft has responded by slashing prices for Office 365 plans for both enterprise and small-to-medium businesses. It has also been adding carrots, like increased storage in OneDrive, Yammer across all the Office 365 plans and free Web Apps for the major applications in the Office Suite through