Google launches Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office beta

Google has launched a beta of Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, a service that allows Office documents to be synced up to the cloud, effectively offering the benefits of Google Docs within Microsoft’s popular suite.

The new service works with Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 and, once synced, will automatically back up documents on the Google Docs cloud. Users will be given a unique URL to access the document from anywhere.

The integration of Microsoft Office into Google Docs goes even further than that, allowing users to work collaboratively on documents from within Office itself. A version history of edits is also provided, allowing multiple users to cycle through various drafts of a document.

Clearly Google recognises that Microsoft Office remains one of the most popular office software suites around, and that instead of asking everyone to drop it and use Google Docs instead, it would be much wiser to, in some ways, merge the two. This suggests that potentially the two rival companies could mutually benefit from working together more closely in the future.

Cloud Connect was previously called DocVerse, which was developed by a company of the same name. Google acquired DocVerse in March of this year and the company has been working since then on integrating its product into the wider pool of Google services.

Google was unable to make this service available for Macs, due to what it called a lack of support for open APIs for Microsoft Office on the Mac.

The beta is only open to Google Apps for Business customers. There’s no word yet when this free service will be available for everyone, but we imagine there are some final bugs to squash during the beta first.