This is how Quickoffice, the cloud-based productivity software that Google acquired last summer for an undisclosed sum, could truly start to threaten Microsoft Office’s domination.
Back in December, Google made it easier to convert legacy Office files (such as Word or Excel) into Google Docs, Sheets and Slides—all of which can be edited in Quickoffice. The Quickoffice iPad app also allows users to open and edit any Office files stored in a Google Drive.
Now comes the next stage: porting Quickoffice (originally built for mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones) to laptops. Google is bringing a Quickoffice viewer to its new high-end Chromebook Pixel, with full editing ability expected within three months. According to TechCrunch, Quickoffice-on-Chromebooks comes courtesy of Native Client, an open-source sandboxing technology that allows native application code to run within a Web browser at considerable speed.
Unlike Windows, which can store and run software off a local drive, Chrome OS depends largely on cloud-based apps, including Google services such as Gmail; in allowing developers to deliver more high-powered apps via the browser, Native Client proves especially useful for Google as it tries to increase Chromebook adoption.
That adoption could hinge on Chromebooks’ effectiveness as productivity tools, and a version of Quickoffice modified for laptops could go a long way toward accomplishing that particular end. (It would also require Quickoffice appear on Chromebooks other than the Chromebook Pixel, which, as a machine with premium hardware and cost, may not have the price point to attract a broad audience.)
Microsoft’s already well aware of the cloud’s dangers and opportunities, especially when it comes to productivity software. It’s aggressively pushed Office 365 Home Premium, which is available via the browser for a $99.99-per-year subscription fee, over the latest version of its “traditional” office software, even highlighting on its own Website how the cloud-based version is a better deal.
Despite Microsoft’s relatively newfound cloud religion, Google maintains a strong position in mobility and the cloud. Its Android operating system (loaded with QuickOffice) is the 800-pound gorilla of the mobile-device world, with Apple’s iOS its only meaningful competition. If Chrome OS catches on in a big way, it won’t just threaten Windows at a particularly vulnerable moment—loaded with a muscular version of Quickoffice, it could start to threaten Microsoft Office as well.