May 13, 2010, 10:49 AM — Microsoft held its official launch event this morning for Office 2010--the latest release of its dominant office productivity suite. Some of the new elements of Office 2010 make the suite more Web-enabled, while recent changes to Google Docs make it more "Office-like", setting the two up for head-to-head battle.
Microsoft, with 25 years developing office productivity suites for the desktop, represents the traditional model of locally-installed software on each system. Google, on the other hand, is the upstart challenger in the office productivity arena, and represents the cloud-based, collaborative approach to office productivity.
Microsoft, aside from the standard developmental evolution and new features one might expect in a new release of the Office productivity suite, has also added scaled-down Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote to enable online access and productivity similar to Google Docs.
For its part, Google recently made some changes to improve Google Docs. The primary updates to Google Docs revolve around making the apps more responsive and improving the real-time collaboration capabilities--a strong suit of Google Docs. However, Google also claimed "The new technical foundation also helped us improve document formatting, which means better import/export fidelity, a revamped comment system, real margins and tab stops, and improved image layout within documents."
Microsoft is quick to point out the flaws, though, in Google's claim that Google Docs is somehow a perfect complement to Office and can be used seamlessly in combination as a more affordable option than Office 2010. Alex Payne, a director of the online product management team for Microsoft, points out in a blog post that "charts, styles, watermarks, fonts, tracked changes, SmartArt, etc. (can be a pretty long list) might be gone or manipulated in a way resulting in something that doesn't look like it did before conversion."
I did some quick testing of how the two work together. First of all, Google Docs limits the file size for uploads to 1mb. Granted, that is plenty for most office productivity files, but large docs, or multimedia presentations may quickly exceed 1mb, making it impossible to upload and work with the files in Google Docs.