Central Desktop Adds Cloud Collaboration To Microsoft Office

Users can collaborate through the cloud service, sharing edits, comments and more, without switching between Office applications and a web browser.

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Using the added toolbar, users can co-author Office documents -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- concurrently. According to the company, when a users selects a file in a workspace, Central Desktop For Office automatically detects that a file came from Central Desktop, and displays additional data within Word, including metadata like who else has "subscribed" to the document, and who else is currently using the file. "When one user saves a change, all other users in the document will immediately be prompted to preview and merge the edits into one updated version," according to the company.

"If somebody 'lives' in Word most of the day, this can be a good enabler," says Larry Cannell, Research Director, Gartner Research. "Being able to collaborate from within Microsoft Office lets task-oriented workers contribute without having to switch to a web browser. It can be difficult to toggle between a web browser for commenting and Office for writing and editing."

Central Desktop for Office also creates and saves a version history tracking all changes, and an audit log that can include user comments made about the document. And users can also pull in other Central Desktop information such as presence (who's connected) into the commenting panel.

Central Desktop for Office is compatible with any version of Microsoft Office including 2003, 2007 and 2010 -- unlike, according to Garcia, Microsoft Office and SharePoint, which can only provide some of these collaborative features with Microsoft 2010. Since Central Desktop is a cloud-based service, companies don't need buy, install or maintain any additional hardware or software to use it. (Central Desktop for Office does require a download, however.)

"Central Desktop has hooks into Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook, so we can bring a full SharePoint alternative without embracing a Microsoft 'stack,' meaning SharePoint, SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange... the things that come with a full SharePoint installation," says Garcia.

Central Desktop for Office works with Windows, and is available now, in both free and premium versions.

The free version is available for all Central Desktop users and includes the ability to open and save files from the Central Desktop for Office toolbar.

The premium version has additional functions including the co-authoring feature, and is available for $30 per user per year (in addition to the charge for a Central Desktop account, which start at $25 per month).

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