The recent launch of Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings the benefits of cloud computing to Word, Excel and PowerPoint – all you need is Google Apps.

We’ve been testing out the new Google Cloud Connect plug-in over the past few weeks, digging out our copies of Microsoft Office and trying to collaborate and share documents. We are happy to report that, if you want the benefits that cloud computing brings but need to keep using Microsoft Office, the new plug-in could be the answer.

I have to point out at this stage that, in my opinion, Google Apps can replace most people’s copy of MS Office without much difficulty, but I also understand the need for the richer features of Word and PowerPoint or the deep formulas and pivot table abilities of Excel. So, if you are married to your copy of Microsoft Office but wish to avoid the hassle of multiple copies of the same document, we recommend you try out Google Apps for Business and Google Cloud Connect.

In a nutshell Cloud Connect will sync a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document to your Google Apps account. From your account you can share a document with colleagues and send them a url to access. Your colleagues can then open the document in MS Office, make changes and re-sync. You can’t see changes being made in real-time like you can with Google Apps, but it does alert you if your changes will overwrite changes made by your colleagues.

All in all we think it’s a good solution for MS Office users, enabling them to utilise the cloud without any further cost. It is a shame that users can’t edit a document created in Word, Excel or PowerPoint in Google Docs, Spreadsheets or Presentations but Google have claimed the differences in functionality make that very complex.

Like Google says in their recent blog, Google Cloud Connect will “teach your old docs new tricks”, and we can’t disagree with that.