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Google Chrome Beta Can Open Microsoft Office Files

Google announced a Chrome beta this week that lets users view Microsoft Office files directly in their browsers.

Users can open Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents in the Chrome beta browser when it's used with a Chrome Office Viewer beta browser extension, according to a Thursday announcement by Google. The kinds of Office documents that can be opened include the older binary types (such as .DOC, etc.) as well as the newer XML-based formats (such as .DOCX, etc.).

Office documents open in a browser tab and are isolated via Google's sandbox barrier for security purposes. The documents open automatically in the tab, and some reviewers of the Chrome Office Viewer have complained that they miss getting the documents via downloads, or say they've had problems with the beta.

Chromebook users are also saying in the reviews that the Chrome Office Viewer beta is not supported on their computers. However, Google did state in its announcement that it's already possible to open Office files on a Chromebook, so there may be no need to use the Chrome Office Viewer beta extension on those machines.

The Chrome beta can be downloaded here. The Chrome Office Viewer beta extension is available at this Chrome Web Store page.

Also this month, Google announced improvements to its Chrome for Business offering, which is the usual Chrome browser along with MSI installer files, Group Policy controls and various management functionalities. IT pros using Chrome for Business can now set policies specifying which browser launches for particular a Web application. This legacy browser support capability is a way to run the Google Chrome browser while also supporting Web apps that rely on older browsers to work.

Another addition to Chrome for Business is the ability to set policies and preferences for user devices over the Web. IT pros can set policies for managed Chrome devices, as well as unmanaged computers, such as Linux, Mac and Windows machines. This capability is available to Google Apps for Business and Education customers, according to Google's announcement.

Google claims that it has more than 100 settings that can be synchronized across all users' browsers in a computing environment with Chrome for Business. Google does push down frequent browser updates to end users, however. While IT pros can disable those automatic updates, Google doesn't recommend doing that, per its FAQ. The automatic updates get installed even if users don't have local administrative rights on their machines, according to the FAQ.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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