Chrome OS Gets More MS Office Compatible, But Has a Ways to Go
Last week, Google took a bold step forward in providing native editing capabilities for Microsoft Word and Excel files directly from Chrome OS. Microsoft's Office applications are dominant in the business world, and compatibility with them is essential if Google's platforms and applications are to make more inroads in businesses. The latest moves from Google follow the news back in May when the company built features into the Chrome browser allowing users to open Microsoft Office files.
All of these compatibility steps from Google are a result of the company's acquisition of QuickOffice last year, which specialized in compatibility with Office file formats. However, some are claiming that Google is putting together an "Office killer," which seems a bit over the top.
It's no secret that Google would like to be more entrenched in businesses. Even with the success of Android phones, many businesses don't allow them for security reasons, and Microsoft's productivity applications are far more widely used in businesses than Google's are.
The QuickOffice acquisition from last year allowed Google to start providing editing and compatibility features with Microsoft's applications. These moves prompted this reaction from PC World:
"What makes QuickOffice such a threat to Office? If QuickOffice comes close enough to the functionality that Microsoft Office itself offers, users may begin to question why they’re paying hundreds of dollars for dedicated Office suites or for an Office 365 subscription."
The story does add that "Google isn’t close at all to this point yet," and that is definitely true. The editing capabilities are only found in a developer build of Chrome OS at the moment, and true compatibility with Office applications means more than just editing. Many business have complex spreadsheets in Excel that they will demand to open and run flawlessly when they turn to a different spreadsheet, for example. That's a larger challenge than just providing editing features.
Steadily, though, Google is making Chrome OS more of a competitive operating system. The company has done away with some of the cloud-only rhetoric that the OS initially imposed on users, and is making it more compatible with tools that businesses use. Look for the new Office editing features to extend to PowerPoint and other Office applications soon.