Google Eases its Policies Toward Sharing Apps Documents
Slowly but surely, Google is following proven principles of openness to increase adoption of Google Apps--especially in the business world. The company has made no secret of the fact that it wants to win more enterprise users over, and convince enterprises that they should move from Microsoft's Office productivity applications to Google Apps.
Now, in a move designed to make it easier for users to share documents online, Google has changed its policies regarding document sharing for the Apps suite. Starting now, users without a Google account can get access to shared Apps documents in the cloud.
According to Google's announcement:
"We are making it easier to share Docs, Slides and Drawings with people who don’t have a Google Account. As a result of this change, files shared outside your domain to an email address not linked to an existing Google Account can be viewed without having to sign in or create a new Google Account. If a file is shared with edit or comment permissions, the recieving user must still sign in with a Google Account in order to edit or comment on that file....When a user directly shares with individuals who do not have Google Accounts, those recipients will be able to view the file without signing in."
It's worth noting that there still is an option in the Apps admin console that can disable this type of sharing, but Google is definitely opening Apps documents stored online up to a broader set of users by making sharing policies more relaxed.
As it focuses on the giant market share that Microsoft Office still has, Google has also recently made it easier to work with Microsoft Office files directly from the Chrome Browser. Via its QuickOffice acquisition, Google Chrome users can work with Microsoft Office documents in more and more ways.
As far as Google Apps policies go, Google still has not made it possible for users without a Google account to edit Apps documents, but at least they can now share them with other users in terms of viewing them. Easy document sharing is certainly one of the benefits of using apps that reside in the cloud.