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Google Exec: Docs Can Supplant Office In One Year

President of Google's enterprise division admits Microsoft has edge for now

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Dave Girouard, the president of Google’s enterprise division, made an interesting admission earlier today, acknowledging that Google Docs isn’t right for the average person.  But Girouard also made an interesting prediction, putting Google Docs about a year away from seriously challenging Microsoft Office.

Let’s look at the current state of things first.  According to Victoria Ho, Girouard said that Google Docs is "much less mature" than other Google products, and he later continued, "We wouldn’t ask people to get rid of Microsoft Office and use Google Docs because it is not mature yet."

You can almost imagine a marketing team trying to tackle Girouard right then; such honesty probably won’t do Google Docs much good in the short term.

Still, the fact that Girouard (who’s spent almost six years with Google) was willing to face reality makes his forecast more noteworthy.  And Girouard indicated that a number of Google Docs updates will land next year, at which point businesses should be able to "get rid of Office if they chose to."

That’s more the sort of message Google’s marketing team could (and quite possibly will) get behind.

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> Google Docs Gets New And Old Features

> Google To Start Crawling Google Docs Documents

Google Exec: Docs Can Supplant Office In One Year
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  • http://www.marketappeal.co.uk SEO Alchemist

    As a regular user of Google Docs in it’s Apps guise I think that his synopsis is about right.

    For many people Google Docs is perfectly good most of the time, but it’s still far from complete in several areas, meaning that I still resort to Open Office on occasion.

    Finer page layout settings, such as finer control of line spacing, more accurate rendering of exported docs such as pdfs, text justification, improved image positioning, table (in Doc) formatting and functionality and formatting pasting are a few of the areas that they need to work on.

    It’s already a great collaboration tool and has some nice touches, so should be ready for prime time soon, just not jet!

  • http://www.better-fundraising-ideas.com Neill Wilkins

    All I can say is that we have just started using Google docs.

    OK a bit clunky at the moment but you can just see the potential

  • http://www.DrizGroup.com Steve

    As Google Docs user and a technology professional I’m a bit surprised because in my view, in its earlier stages and today Google Docs specifically appeals to an average user who does not have complex requirements. Power users is another story since they need additional functionality besides simple text editing that is presently offered by Microsoft Office, Open Office etc. Judging by the progress in last two years, I have no doubt that very soon, Google Docs will become feature reach office productivity suite.

  • http://www.jegas.com Jason P Sage

    Placing important business data on a “famous” cloud (like google) is like asking hackers to add you to their prospective victim list.

    Placing important business data on the servers of advertising companies? Simply insane.

    In my opinion it is much safer to use local tools like MS Office and Open Office among others, and then use “lesser known” cloud computing systems or better still your own servers to share the information.

    Make sure sensitive information is passed over SSL whenever possible.

    Microsoft is coming out with Ad Supported Microsoft Office also, probably from pressure regarding Google and Open Office. I don’t personally think this is such a good idea myself, as Microsoft is becoming more and more another advertising machine – which means there is a conflict of interest: Yours and Advertisers with Microsoft holding the keys… more scary if running on newer OS’s that have “new things” we not be aware.

    Use whatever works for you, just make sure you understand the ramifications of your actions to your security and those whom with you exchange and share data at all times.

    –Jason

    • Guest

      Google runs a multibillion dollar ecommerce business on their cloud, I’m sure they have been a target of hackers for a long long time with no major incidents from what I can tell. And even if putting your docs on Google’s cloud puts you on the ‘prospective victim list’, given all of the information that Google has, why would anyone care about your documents? I would have to assume that Google’s R&D team also keeps their information in this cloud and presumably their information is much more valuable than the average persons (no offense meant of course).

      • Guest

        That is not how security of your information should be perceived.

  • vishvesh

    Google docs is pretty decent although not as versatile as MS Office. But lets accept the fact MS Office has had a huge head start. I have been using google docs for 2 years now and I haven’t had many problems with it. Google needs to add new features to make it attractive.

  • Developer

    Agree with the piece & the comments. A bit clunky & frustrating in parts but considering it’s free it’s very, very good & with Google you know it will only get better.

  • http://www.medlawplus.com medlaw

    The promise of google docs, an online app that allows users to junk MS Word (and maybe MS Office entirely), is golden. But I am certain that google will not get to the end of the rainbow in 2010 for users such as myself. As the previous poster eloquently stated, gdocs does not currently allow the user sufficient control over the finer points of page / paragraph setup (margins, line spacing, indents, bullets). Just click on the “format” tab and check the options. It’s meager. That’s a problem for some types of legal documents. Perhaps Google can bridge that gap in a year. Again, skeptical but I’m also an author. I use MS Word to format books that I self-publish. gdocs isn’t even in the ballpark for this use. I applaud their effort and look forward to future improvements … but be careful not to over promise.

  • AbbydonKrafts

    I use Google Docs for personal information that I want available from any computer I use (multitudes of home ones, work, etc), but it is far from competing with Office.

    • Most of the formatting is very substandard, including fonts, colors and borders.
    • “Printing” never works right.
    • The larger a document gets, the slower the typing gets.

    I use Spreadsheets the most since that is the data I need the most portability on. Here are the major flaws I’ve run into with it.

    • Formatting an entire row or column makes Spreadsheets think the print area is infinite.
    • There isn’t a way to define the print area.
    • Sorting is restricted to one column.
    • Formulas are kludgey. Advanced formulas are almost impossible and drastically slow down data entry due to rendering.
    • Limited colors (no custom color entry) gives the sheet a “Hot Dog Stand” look. In Excel, I use colors that are shades lighter than ones provided in Spreadsheets.
    • Limited date formatting. I want to be able to define my own format.
    • Arbitrary column and row sizing. There isn’t a way to enter in an exact size, so resized columns and rows aren’t exactly the same as the others.
    • A spreadsheet with over 100 rows using formatting and simple formulas can have bad performance even on a high-end PC. I’ve checked in both Google Chrome and Firefox.

    There are many more drawbacks, but I don’t use Google Spreadsheets if I need more advanced capabilities such as macros. I believe Girouard is being too optimistic unless those “number of .. updates” address the above points and more.

  • Guest

    Without programmability, there’s really nowhere for Google Docs in an Office that is more than minorly technological. Nearly every office I’ve worked (a lot, since I’m a contractor) has programs specifically written for Office Interop through MS Office’s VBA and the objects exposed in .NET. It can be something simple like a mailing list that autofills a Word template, or it can be very complex with interactivity between Access, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.

    For the simpler tasks, Google Docs and OpenOFfice are fine, but they cannot replace the system critical functions that MS Office handles because of their lack of programmability.

    • Guest

      Just what I meant :) Office is for the serious business

  • Guest

    Poor idiot, like if all of office could be replaced that easily maybe they intend to replace uhmm Office starter but I doubt they will beat it, something google has done wrong is starting backwards with not their own developement community and strengths like MS did

  • Guest

    Released in 2006 and still is not mature!!! So, it will be a mature product in 2050???

  • http://dermalfillerssydney.com.au Mazza

    I too am a regular user of Google Docs and Yes its getting better, could it be better Yes to that Also.

  • Guest

    Go on Google! Give me a good enough reason to stop paying for my office suite! So far, no go, but I’d bet a lot of that has to do with making the apps useful/responsive over connections of varying speeds. I, for one, plan to stay tuned…

  • Guest

    This hype of web apps and cloud computing is a pipe dream and by that I mean unless you live in a country/town/city where you have decent pipe (Internet connection) these things don’t work. They go on about OS is on the way out but some of these web apps use more CPU than if you where running a similar application locally and with a fraction of the features and usability.

  • Max

    The notion that Google Docs will supplant Office within a year is a pretty darn big stretch. I don’t care how good it gets in that year. People are creatures of habit, and bad habits tend to stick better than good, as evidenced by the continued use of Internet Explorer 6. It is taking several years for IE6 to die, and that’s even with several superior free-to-the-user products to supplant it. Office isn’t a bad habit like IE6, though.

    Google Docs does not offer the functionality and usability needed to compete head to head with Office, and even if that functionality comes within the year, it will take years beyond then for people to give up the familiarity of Office. People who read WebProNews might make the leap, if and when the functionality comes, but the average Office business user out there will not make the change anytime soon. Inertia is a powerful thing.

  • Guest

    Google is just another stupid and think that it can rule over all industries after 2 years their would be Google CPU . Stupid and mean google .

  • ron

    Google Docs is something I use sparingly–great for creating dashboard charts. For me, the MS products allow me to great solutions.