Google now offers the ability to edit Office documents within Chrome OS,
although the new feature is currently far less capable than
the document-editing capabilities of Google’s own Google Apps.
However, there’s one reason why this is worth checking out: the service
is the first time that Google’s QuickOffice has made an appearance.
In June of 2012, Google bought QuickOffice, an office suite for Android and iOS, for an undisclosed sum
“Today, consumers, businesses, and schools use Google Apps to get stuff
done from anywhere, with anyonem, and on any device,” Google
Engineering Director Alan Warren explained then in a company blog
“Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless
interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on
bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite.”
That sums it up quite nicely: for now, Google Apps provides the
functionality and QuickOffice provides the compatibility aspect. Since
the purchase, Google has worked to bring the QuickOffice technology to
its other properties, namedly Chrome OS.
Over time, analysts have suspected that QuickOffice will become the face
of Google Docs. Before the Google I/O developers conference in May,
Google sources said that the company has been “dog fooding,” or
internally deploying, QuickOffice within a browser.
An Office threat
What makes QuickOffice such a threat to Office? If QuickOffice comes
close enough to the functionality that Microsoft Office itself offers,
users may begin to question why they’re paying hundreds of dollars for
dedicated Office suites or for an Office 365 subscription.
Google isn’t close at all to this point yet. Not only is QuickOffice
available in the unstable “developer” channel of Chrome OS, but the
functionality is far behind what even Google Docs offers. It sure looks
Compare this QuickOffice screenshot:
Google QuickOfficedocument editing within the Chrome OS Chrome browser.
with the standard Google Apps screenshot:
A standard Google Docs document.
You’ll notice immediately that Google Apps contains many more editing
options than the current QuickOffice version, which lacks support for
tables and graphs, as well as support for scripts.
Users can also view and edit Excel documents within the browser, according to The Next Web
which earlier reported the news, citing developer Francois Beaufort as
the original source. So far, PowerPoint compatibility has not been
To try it yourself, you’ll need to own a Chromebook
or Chromebox. Make sure you’re on the dev channel, with version
29.0.1547.2 or later. (Note that the dev channel is considered
“unstable,” so odd things could happen if you use it. Then type
in “about://flags” (no quotes) into the URL line, which should bring up
a long list of options. “Enable document editing” will allow you to
edit the documents after a quick restart.
Eventually, these changes should come to the main (stable) channel of
Chrome, meaning that most users will be able to natively edit Office
documents. At that point, if Google increases QuickOffice’s
capabilities, look out.