Sources claim the search giant Google is set to roll out a true alternative to the Microsoft Office productivity suite.
Google already offers a number of apps, both within its Google apps suite as part of the Chrome browser and within its Google Play app store for smartphones and tablets. However, until now their functionality has been limited. Most notably, though compatible with .doc files, they haven't worked with .docx files, the current Word format. However, that is set to change.
According to readwriteweb, Google is combining the technology from QuickOffice -- a company it recently acquired -- into its own app suite to launch its own cloud-based productivity suite in the Chrome browser. QuickOffice has native compatibility with Microsoft files, meaning that consumers and business users alike will be able to not only open files created with Microsoft Word with the app, but also edit, re-save and share them.
The app, which will also provide Excel and PowerPoint file functionality, is expected to first roll out to Chromebook Pixel owners as a browser extension before entering the wider Google ecosystem. And while it won't completely replicate the depth of features found in the full desktop version of Microsoft Office, those in the know claim it will offer enough to close the gap between apps and applications significantly.
Numerous leaks show that Microsoft has already developed iPhone-, iPad- and Android-compatible app versions of its spreadsheet, word processing and presentation programs, yet it has no current plans to launch them. Maybe the treat of a web-based alternative could force the company to change its mind. Let's hope so. Though too much choice is often worse than no choice, the more companies are forced to compete in the same area, the more they are obliged to innovate and really consider the consumer's needs, rather than simply their shareholders.ch/kc