Google promises major Docs improvements

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Google promises major Docs improvements

Google has announced that its Google Docs productivity suite will be updated with a number of improvements over the next 12 months.

Dave Girouard, Google Enterprise unit president, told delegates at the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch 2009 US Technology Conference that "in a year the products will be night and day from what they are today".

He also discussed Google's rivalry with Microsoft, and his objection to the term 'private cloud'.

Girouard recognised that most businesses buy the Google Docs suite for the email and calendar offerings, and said that the spreadsheet and word processing products had "ways to go".

"Gmail is really the best email application in the world for consumers or business users, and we can prove that very well. Calendar is also very good, and probably almost at the level of Gmail. But the word processing, spreadsheets and other products are much less mature. They're a couple of years old at the most, and we still have a lot of work to do," he said.

Google Docs comprises the search firm's messaging, calendar and email offerings, as well as collaboration products, such as Docs, Video and Sites.

"I do not view [the collaboration products] today as a full-on replacement for [Microsoft's] Office or [Sun Microsystems'] OpenOffice for that matter," said Girouard.

He also explained that Google had a great advantage in the market because of its giant consumer side, which allows it to supply on-demand services at a low cost.

"We do not run Google Enterprise on a separate infrastructure [from the rest of the company]. There are not separate data centres, so the management of users, processes and how jobs are allocated is shared," he said.

Girouard added that Google Docs is at least a quarter of the price of similar offerings from Microsoft. He also hit out at storage firm EMC, which uses the term 'private cloud' to describe a fully virtualised enterprise IT environment.

Chuck Hollid, EMC's chief technology global marketing president, said at a company event last month that the term is used because "operational style is biased towards on-demand and self-service, and less towards static provisioning and management".

But Girouard insisted that he had a "fundamental objection" to the term, because there is "no such thing".

"This is not to say that corporate data centres are going away, or that virtualisation will disappear, because companies will get more out of their datacentres and more out of their servers. Firms like Symantec and EMC have a great future but, in my view, we are doing different things."

In related news, Google said that it will open up the code to Page Speed, a tool the company uses internally to improve its web page performance.

Page Speed is a Firefox add-on integrated with Firebug, and gives users immediate suggestions on how they can improve the speed of their web pages, according to Google.

"For example, Page Speed automatically optimises images for you, giving you a compressed image that you can use immediately on your web site," said Page Speed staff Richard Rabbat and Bryan McQuade in the Google Code blog.

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