Let’s face it. While Google Docs offers decent web-based office productivity tools, you and some of your users need or want to keep the interface and features of MS Office. The good news is that you can integrate MS Office and Google Docs to create a collaborative file service. Google Cloud Connect, a free utility with Google Apps, is one such integration tool. But, is it enough?
In our assessment, Cloud Connect provides basic integration, but lacks features that will give your users the full power of Google Docs as a collaboration platform. Here is what we find lacking:
- Automation Overdrive: On installation, all MS Office documents will be added to Google Docs with automatic synchronization. It is too easy to end up synchronizing files that you do not want or need to be in the cloud.
- No Format Options: Cloud Connect always uploads files in native MS Office formats, utilizing valuable space. Users do not have the option to convert to Google Docs’ formats to take advantage of the unlimited storage.
- No Collections: All files are synchronized to your Home folder; you don’t have the option of selecting other locations.
- Limited Permissions: Documents inherit the rights of the Home collection, and you can add/change collaborators individually to files. Since you cannot save files to other collections, you cannot take advantage of the permissions capabilities of Google Docs.
- Site-Less: You cannot synchronize files to Google Sites, so you do not have the ability to use all available storage and you cannot take advantage of the version control features in Sites.
Fortunately, you have some options. Our favorite is OffiSync Premium. In addition to providing all of the features lacking on Cloud Connect, OffiSync Premium lets you add/remove Google Docs collections and Google Site pages, email collaborators, and embed image and web search results … all from within a toolbar/ribbon in MS Word, Excel, or Powerpoint. Also, OffiSync Premium gives you co-authoring collaboration across versions of MS Office, including 2003, 2007, and 2010.