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Google Docs Opens Up

Google's online productivity suite isn't just a nifty little tool for storing documents and spreadsheets anymore. It's wide open now -- sort of.

Google revealed this week that Google Docs will now store more than just documents (we'd call them Word documents, but that's like saying "Kleenex" instead of "tissue") and spreadsheets. The online suite will now accept and store any type of file, including photos and the like.

It's kind of a mundane thing for now, and as the Wired story linked above indicates, the actual storage space offered is pretty disappointing: Google's giving up 1GB for free, with extra space going for $0.25 (or 25¢ -- the "cents" symbol is so underused these days) per GB per year. It's not a super-competitive offer at this point, but the opening of Google Docs looks like another step in Google's vision of crushing Microsoft Office and taking over the productivity-suite world.

Of course, it probably won't do that, as Office has a massive lead in market share and Microsoft (finally) has online Office offerings both available and in the works. But Google's move, and the moves competitors might make to counter it, could help hasten the (very slow) death of the PC hard drive and client-server model.

That's fine with us, actually, as we at RCPU already use Google Docs to back up files. The whole Google productivity thing needs to work better, though. Google's word processor is at about a 1999 level in comparison to Microsoft's whiz-bang (albeit bloated) Word 2007.

The battle for online-suite supremacy is going to be fought with small steps and mundane announcements such as this one, partly because this stuff is hard for vendors to set in motion and partly because users (and especially enterprises) are still getting used to the idea of actually using cloud technology for important purposes. It's all a trickle now, but cloud technology will eventually become a rushing river. A river of clouds. Or something like that. We'll keep working on our metaphors in the meantime.

What's your take on cloud computing and who's got the most to offer? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/14/2010 at 1:22 PM


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