Google just announced that their cloud connect plugin for Microsoft Office is now available to the general public.
Why the excitement for a toolbar? Take a look at how you store and collaborate on files today. If you’re at a basic level, you’re probably storing important files locally on your pc. If you’ve been bitten a few times by data loss, you probably have some sort of backup system in place. If you’ve graduated to a dedicated file server, with multiple station access, you may be running into sharing and locked for editing errors. Advanced users are usually rolling with Sharepoint and the associated office plugin.
This plugin fits a great need for small businesses who need 100% Office compatibility as well as cheap, cheerful, available anywhere file backup and access. The sharing and collaboration features are icing on the cake. No more saving different branches of changes; use the canonical version and feel safe that you’re not repeating co-workers work.
What about the doom-sayers who think giving Google access to your data is bad? Security wise, there is a risk but its unlikely to be any worse than the mish-mash local file setup that most SME companies are living with today. Maybe Google will use it to show you more relevant ads, or maybe they’ll use it to make Google Docs a better competitor to MS Office. Neither would bother me.