Upgrades to Google Docs bring exciting new features to Cloud Office

At the inaugural Atmosphere  2010 Cloud Computing conference today, Google introduced some interesting new features to Google Docs that not only make them more familiar to Microsoft Office users, but also take collaboration to whole new levels.  

Check out the new features in the video below:

Google lists the improvements in five categories:

New document and spreadsheet features

 - Documents: margin ruler, better numbering and bullets and easier image placement options

- Spreadsheets: formula editing bar, cell auto-complete, drag-and-drop columns and other features not possible with older browser technologies.

Higher fidelity document import

-import of documents now more lossless

Speed and responsiveness

New Browser Javascript technologies speed up big documents

Faster collaboration

This is the wow factor in the video above.  You've always had this type of capability in Spreadsheets but now with Documents, it shows three people writing at the same time.  This is the kind of thing that will change document production as we know it.  

For instance, someone can be writing a document while an editor follows behind.

The improved features come at a price for some.  Google is phasing out support for legacy browsers and its Gears product which allows for offline editing.  Google hopes to replace Gears with support for HTML5 databases and technology from its recent Docverse acquisition.

Other Cloud Office players are building out their offerings:  

Microsoft is advertising its Office Live software+services as a competitor to Google's Docs mixing both traditional offline access with Cloud collaboration and versioning.

Apple is also starting to build out its iWork.com which at the moment has only rudimentary online tools. 

Zoho also offers a competitive Cloud Computing Office Service (with Google integration!) with more features but without the backing of Google.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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