Google Apps Goes After Microsoft Office

An early peek at the upgraded Google Apps and an exclusive series of interviews with Google engineers reveals how the productivity apps have been formulated to take on a bigger role in the office -- and a bite out of Microsoft's Office suite.
Video: David Berlind explores new Docs features
More analysis: Of Microsoft's cloud offerings, and other cloud productivity vendors
Research: A report including this analysis and more, along with the complete data set of 14 charts based on our survey of 571 business technology pros

In a play for a bigger chunk of business users in the enterprise and SOHO markets, Google has refreshed its online word processing (Google Documents) and spreadsheet (Google Spreadsheets) applications. In the process, it has put office titan Microsoft on notice: realtime collaboration and online-only software are here to stay.

For years it's been hard to know how serious Google was about business software. Now its strategy is clear: It's going for Microsoft's jugular.

In a walkthrough of the revised Google Documents app with product manager Jeff Harris, TechWeb Chief Content Officer David Berlind got an inside look at changes to the Microsoft Word challenger. See video here.

To test the realtime collaboration capabilities of Google Docs, InformationWeek editors and reporters worked collectively on editing documents. Verdict: "From a collaboration point of view, it's sort of like breathing pure oxygen. But it takes some getting used to..."

Realtime collaboration for Spreadsheets users was already a done deal, so Google's rewrite of the app focused on and tinkering under the hood to add more muscle to features and performance. A visit with Google engineers revealed some of the process that went into the changes. See video here.

So, who will reign in this battle for the collaborative backbone of business computing? No one knows, of course, but a collateral winners are already emerging. CIOs and other IT decision makers, like the Los Angeles City Council, are finding reasons to switch.

For Further Reading:

Special Report: Desktop Apps: Time For Change

First Look: Google Docs Gets Realtime Collaboration

Google Spreadsheets Revs Desktop Features, Performance

Google Apps Refresh Sets Up Deathmatch With Microsoft

With Rewrite, Google Docs Takes Microsoft Office Head On

Global CIO: As Google And Microsoft Slug It Out, CIOs Come Out On Top

Global CIO: Google, At Last, Goes For Microsoft's Throat

Microsoft Exec: 'We'll Beat Google In Cloud'

Microsoft Web Apps Will Force Google's Hand

Google Buys Maker Of Microsoft Office Plugin

Four Possible Reasons Why L.A. Chose Google Over Microsoft