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June 29, 2012

Google adds offline access to Docs

Using Docs without an internet connection is latest step in battle with Microsoft for enterprise supremacy

By Steve Evans

Google has announced offline access for its cloud-based Docs platform, stepping up its efforts to win more enterprise customers from rival Microsoft.

While the benefits of using cloud-based products are clear, one of the problems is that a user has to be connected to the internet for them to work. However Google has removed that barrier by making Google Docs, or Drive as it is now known, available even if a user disconnects from the web.

The update means users can work on documents when offline and any changes will be automatically synced when an internet connection is re-established.

Not all functionality will be available as some aspects of Google Drives require an active internet connection. Sharing, downloading, publishing and printing will not be available and users will be unable to insert images into documents. Research and translations tools are not available offline and the Help Centre is also online-only.

Adding the ability to use Google Docs offline is a significant step for the company, which has been battling with Microsoft’s Office product for enterprise supremacy. Google’s Apps for Business platform, which includes Docs, has won a number of high-profile customers over the last few years. These include Premier Foods, Hillingdon Council and Spanish bank BBVA.

Google also recently revamped its Apps contracts to help meet data protection regulations in the region.

Microsoft has also responded to the threat from Google by taking its Office suite to the cloud with Office 365.

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Offline editing is currently only available for documents although Google says it is working on making it available for spreadsheets and presentations as well. Users will also need Google’s Chrome browser or ChromeOS operating system for offline editing to work.

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