OffiSync Brings Google Docs Goodies to MS Office

logoWouldn’t it be great if Microsoft Office (s msft) had the collaborative and cloud storage functionality of Google Docs (s goog)? Well, now it does, using a free add-in called OffiSync that launched into public beta today. Offisync adds a toolbar to Office that allows you to use Google Docs for file storage and collaboration.

Once installed, Offisync adds a new toolbar to your Office apps. (Offisync works with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations.)

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The Offisync toolbar

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Quickoffice: Finally, Word Document Editing Comes to Your iPhone

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I’ve been waiting for the ability to edit Word documents on the iPhone since the day I got one. Why? Because I’m a dreamer, and my dream is someday not having to lug around a laptop of any size while I’m traveling, or just out and about in the city.

My iPhone has become a big part of that dream, and the ability to edit any kind of document using it is another. The release of Quickoffice ($19.99, iTunes link) marks a big first for those editing capabilities, with full support for .doc files.
Now, Word support doesn’t mean as much to me as it once did, since I work primarily online these days, but it’s still great to have, and helpful for my own personal fiction writing. Thanks to Quickoffice, I can now edit stories and start new ones on the go, without having to first convert them to .txt or .rtf documents. Conversion doesn’t work well because a lot of the small print publishers still want .doc files, so I have to then convert back before sending. Read More about Quickoffice: Finally, Word Document Editing Comes to Your iPhone

Quickword App Submitted for Apple’s Consideration, Can Edit Word Docs

quickoffice_iphone_bannerA lot of apps have been promising to bring Microsoft (s msft) document editing capabilities to the iPhone, like DocumentsToGo, which enjoyed prominence on the Palm OS, and continues to be a popular choice for BlackBerry users. But now it looks like Quickoffice might be the first app out the door, though it all hinges on Apple (s aapl) giving it the green light. They submitted their app for approval to Cupertino late this week, and if all goes well, it could be available for purchase in the App Store sometime early next week.
With Quickoffice, users can view and edit Microsoft Word and Excel files and share them over a wireless connection. Quickoffice is actually a collection of three individual apps, two of which are already available for the iPhone now. These are Quicksheet ($12.99, iTunes link), for editing Excel spreadsheets, and Quickoffice Files ($3.99, iTunes link), for viewing a variety of files, and transferring them to and from your device. The third application in the series is Quickword, which brings the crucial addition of Word document editing. Read More about Quickword App Submitted for Apple’s Consideration, Can Edit Word Docs

Microsoft Office Is Coming To the Cloud

Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will have a new home in the cloud, the company announced at the Microsoft Developers Conference in Los Angeles this morning, adding the Office suite to the cadre of software and services it has said it will provide as it develops its Windows Azure cloud-based platform. The browser-based versions of the apps will run on Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, as well as on Windows Mobile devices. It will go into a tech preview for developers later this year, the company said.
Given that Microsoft (s MSFT) isn’t talking about when the suite might be released, why the announcement today? The company says it’s because the Office apps are part of its larger shift to the cloud announced with Azure. But it’s also coming relatively late to the game and has let efforts in the productivity space by others go by unchallenged.
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OpenOffice 3.0 Released

Open Office 3 ReleasedThe latest version of Open Office, released today, has been in development for the past three years. As one of the most popular open source competitors to Microsoft Office, the release has been anticipated for some time (the launch even warranted a party!).
Open Office comprises of several applications: a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation package (Impress), drawing app (Draw), and database tools (Base).
Some of the features heralded in the new release include:

  • A new splash screen upon launch (see above)
  • The ability to import Microsoft Office (.doc, .ppt, .xls) and Office 2007/Office 2008 for Mac (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) files (though it still isn’t possible to save to these formats)
  • Support for sharing Excel workbooks
  • Support for Excel sheets with up to 1024 columns
  • A solver component for solving optimization problems
  • Better polished crop and drawing tools
  • The display of multiple Writer pages while editing
  • Inclusion of Office commenting / change tracking in the document margin
  • Some support for Visual Basic macros (a feature dropped by the Microsoft Office team)
  • Enhanced support for PDF exporting, including password protection
  • Support for Open Office extensions, allowing further features to be created by developers (similar to Firefox)
  • No more reliance on X11

Open Office 3.0 is completely free to download and try out. If you are struggling with the Open Office site being overwhelmed with requests for the new software, it’s worth trying this mirror. Installation is far simpler than in previous versions and you can be up and running in a few minutes.
Let us know whether you’ll be switching from Microsoft Office!

Microsoft Updates Office 2008 For Mac To 12.1.2, Office 2004 for Mac to 11.5.1

The fine folks in Redmond have released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.2 update which includes stability and performance enhancements for Office 2008, Office 2008 Home and Student Edition, Office 2008 Special Media Edition, Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008, and Entourage 2008. In addition, this fixes several vulnerabilities, some of which may allow an attacker to run code on your machine if you open malicious document. The download is 160MB and is available at the aforementioned URL (English direct download here) or via the Microsoft AutoUpdate agent.

Microsoft has stated that you should have installed the 12.1.1 Update prior to installing 12.1.2.

In similar fashion, Office 2004 has been updated to 11.5.1 which also has security, stability and performance fixes for Office 2004 Standard Edition, Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition, Office 2004 Professional Edition, Word 2004, Excel 2004, PowerPoint 2004 and Entourage 2004. The 15MB download (English direct) is available via similar channels as the Office 2008 update.

Microsoft has stated that you should have installed the 11.5.0 Update prior to installing 11.5.1.

For what it’s worth: no problems on my end for Office 12.1.2, but I have not had an opportunity to do extensive testing. Since these updates do include security fixes (have I mentioned just how annoying it is when vendors mix security patches with other fixes?) you should install this immediately (after testing, if you’re in a more formal/larger production/working environment).

AutoUpdate should engage at some point today (it has not been populated as of this writing) and the direct links to the info-pages have not percolated to all of Microsoft’s web farm yet.

Let TAB readers know your post-update praises or woes in the comments!

Scrivener – A Writer’s Paradise

I first heard about Scrivener on MacBreak Weekly a couple days ago, and although it has been around for a while, this was the first time that I heard about it. It was only mentioned as “I only use Scrivener now” when they were talking about iWork and Word 2008. I thought I would give it a try.

Scrivener is billed as the only word processor that will help you do everything from the very first idea you have to the final draft. I find it easier to think of it as word processing on steroids. But it isn’t really a word processor, and Keith, the developer is the first to point out often that you will need a different word processor if you want to have a final printable draft of your work. You can do so much more (and so much easier) with Scrivener than Pages or Word. You can be pretty confident that the product is good when the developer links to alternate programs on his website. That shows that the intent is to provide a good user experience, and not only to sell a product. A little of that goes a long way.

Drawbacks

Let’s get the negatives out of the way so we can end on a more positive note.

There are no page layout views. Granted, there aren’t supposed to be any, but, it is still a drawback when you don’t have that and need to export it to Word to get it to layout correctly.

The first thing you will notice is that it is very different from most text editors because there is a lot more to do, which means a larger learning curve, though there is a great detailed (and long) tutorial, that will help get you on your feet.

When you are in full-screen mode, you can’t switch between documents. You must exit full-screen mode, choose another document, then open full-screen mode again.
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Question of the Day: What R Your Pre-Launch Priorities?

I spent yesterday afternoon in an hours-long strategy session with some former Y Combinator grads. The team is in the final week of preparing their startup for its Beta launch, and they were having difficulty yesterday deciding what the ultimate hierarchy of the pre-launch tasks should be. I’m sure all founders struggle with this, so it forms our Question of the Day, below.

Their service is cool, and promises to make a very painful business task — document sharing between parties — much easer. (Google Docs is fine, but these guys can make it slick to share documents even across multiple software platforms. I’ll tell you more about it when they come out of stealth.)

Sexy Features

The founders were eager to add one last feature to their product — so they could promote it at launch for its compatibility to some existing big names in the market (like Google Docs). Great marketing value in that for sure, and it shows the founders recognize they’ll need traction immediately to survive in a crowded space. A headline-grabbing feature would help.

But one of their investors grew concerned that this risked jamming to much stuff into the launch. Read More about Question of the Day: What R Your Pre-Launch Priorities?