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Summary:

This recent debut of the Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview was exciting to many, including myself. However, as a long-time Microsoft Office user, the news that the online component of Office 2010, Office Web, won’t be ready for technical preview until later this summer was a […]

This recent debut of the Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview was exciting to many, including myself. However, as a long-time Microsoft Office user, the news that the online component of Office 2010, Office Web, won’t be ready for technical preview until later this summer was a bit of a buzzkill.

If you’re running Office 2003 or Office 2007 and you can’t wait for Office Web, there are some applications available that can help you get your Microsoft Office data into the cloud, via Google Apps or Zoho Business. These applications can give you piece of mind that your data is backed up and accessible anywhere, and can also help you test the waters for a full migration to a web office suite.

Syncing Applications
While syncing can be a somewhat of a dark art (even with established applications, getting your data to sync properly can be tricky), here is a roundup of some of the more popular syncing apps:


Microsoft Office Add-Ins
and Windows Applications
There are a number of Microsoft Office add-ins that enable you to move your Microsoft Office data to the cloud, including:

  • Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office enables you to access and edit Zoho documents and spreadsheets offline using Microsoft Office. You can also publish local documents to to the cloud via  Zoho Share.
    ZohoAddIn
  • WebWorkerDaily covered OffiSync, which allows you to use Google Docs file storage and collaboration from a Microsoft application toolbar.
  • Google Docs Uploader is a simple Windows application that enables you to upload Office documents to Google Docs using a simple drag-and-drop interface. You need to be running the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or higher.
    GDocsUploader

Hosted Applications
Moving your Microsoft Office data into the cloud doesn’t necessarily mean using Google Apps or Zoho Business. We covered the launch of Microsoft Online Services, which provides hosted SharePoint and Exchange services. I like the thought of Exchange and SharePoint hosted in the cloud, although my experience with SharePoint hosted through third parties has been less than favorable. As Online Services is hosted by Microsoft, I’m hoping it will provide a better experience. Microsoft Online Services makes these services more accessible to freelancers and small- to medium-sized businesses that lack the personnel and resources normally required to run them.

Applications for Neglected Mac Users
I count myself as one of the Mac users stuck in Microsoft Office. As Darrell Etherington wrote about on TheAppleBlog, Mac users are going to have to wait for the Office 2010 goodness. However, there  are some third-party applications available that can help put your Office data into the cloud while you are waiting:

  • Spanning Sync can sync iCal and Address Book with Google Calendar and Gmail Contacts.
  • MobileMe can sync Microsoft Office data from Office on the Mac to the cloud. Unfortunately, I encountered way too many issues with MobileMe after its amateurish launch so I didn’t renew my account. Apple tried to be everything to everybody and stumbled when it came to cloud computing; my plan is to revisit MobileMe in a year to see if Apple has gotten its act together. MobileMe is a fee-based service.
  • GDocsUploader, previously covered by WebWorkerDaily, is nothing more than a small applet that enables you to upload documents to Google Docs via a drag-and-drop interface.

Can Microsoft Office and Web Offices Coexist?
While these third-party and vendor applications, add-ins and services may seem like a rag-tag bunch, they do build a case for coexistence of the desktop-bound Microsoft Office and the various web office suites, although sometimes there are incompatibility problems. I’m hopeful that the interaction between Office 2010 and its web components will provide a smooth round trip for my documents from Microsoft Office on my desktop to Office Web, without the file compatibility issues from using third parties.

How do you use Office with the cloud?

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By Will Kelly

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  1. Office 2010 sounds interesting, but why wait for it to come out when you can use a product like eXpresso which already exists. I use eXpresso for business and personal needs and I LOVE IT! eXpresso provides real-time collaboration and editing control for shared Microsoft Office files in the cloud. Check it out at http://www.expressocorp.com

  2. In some cases, cloud computing is a good solution, in most cases, the habbit of storing information on remote servers is extremely ignorant.
    I propose that the only reason these products exist is because computer security has improved drastically, meaning, gathering personal or business related information is more difficult these days, but the super wealthy and/or the tech sponsored can still do it by providing inherently insecure software programs to use.
    The problem is, you don’t know what is going on at the remote server where you are storing your files – ultimately, peoples cultures are being looted and abused by cloud computing. Accessing your personal and business information by powerful organizations was never easier in these days of improved computer security.
    Getting access to information is the top reason there is so much spam in everyone’s email box (whether you see the spam or not), over 50% of what hits your service providers email server is spam, until recently, it was more like 80%… the reason is people want to know what you have spent your life learning or they want money (arguably the same thing in many cases).

  3. Theres an online collaboration services provider called HyperOffice which includes much of what you mentioned above.

    – Outlook Sync: A plugin called HyperShare allows you to sync mail, tasks, calendars, contacts between Outlook and HyperOffice’s online client (Google Apps Sync doesnt include task synching).
    – Windows Plugin: Their HyperDrive plugin allows you to drag and drop upload files and folders to their online file management system, and collaboratively work on MS Office files.

    You might want to look at their comparison between Google Apps, Microsoft BPOS and HyperOffice

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