With the latest update to Microsoft Office for Mac, Microsoft has added much-improved tools for collaboration. I’ve only had the update for a day but I’ve been testing it out with a few friends, and it’s the closest I’ve seen yet to the Google suite. It even shows who is currently editing via small thumbnails. This is real-time collaboration. You can see your collaborator’s changes as they make them.
While this isn’t Google Docs yet, it is a significant step toward Google Docs-type collaboration. Even more impressive is that Microsoft is pulling this off through the native application. Google has an advantage of working through the browser. I have often felt it’s only a question of time before other companies catch up with Google’s real-time collaboration and it looks like we are starting to see that happen. Once we can have reliable collaboration across the board with the various office suites, it’ll be interesting to see how much staying power Google Docs has. There are still a lot of things I don’t like about Google Docs, but its real-time collaboration is so damn useful. If you work in the Microsoft Office environment, give their new collaboration tools a go. You may end up more impressed than you expect.