Google Buys Office Solution Provider DocVerse

Google took a step toward helping Microsoft Office users collaborate better over the Web by acquiring DocVerse on Friday.

The terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Google will acquire DocVerse's intellectual property and will rehire its personnel, according to a phone call with company officials. San Francisco-based DocVerse is a three-year startup company founded and staffed by former Microsoft personnel. The company's main product is a plug-in for Microsoft Office that lets users share and modify documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) in real time over the Internet.

DocVerse's product offers collaboration functionality that's similar to the functionality found in a number of Microsoft's solutions. Those solutions include Office Live Workspace (for storing and sharing files in the cloud), SharePoint Workspace (a collaboration tool that's part of the forthcoming Office 2010 suite) and Microsoft Office Groove. SharePoint Workspace will replace Groove in Office 2010. Office 2010 also will include Office Web Apps, which are lightweight browser-based versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word that enable document collaboration.

DocVerse Founder and CEO Shan Sinha acknowledged Microsoft's progress on the collaboration front. However, DocVerse's solution is available now, he stressed.

"We can talk about Groove and Office Live Workspace and what Workspace is becoming with Office 2010. I think you'll see a lot of similar functionality…but frankly the reason why we've been talking about it is because people have those [collaboration] problems today, independent of waiting to upgrade to Office 2010."

Microsoft recently announced availability of Office 2010 to business customers on May 12.

DocVerse works with any version of Office, Sinha added. "We give you a great collaboration experience that takes advantage of Web-based technology, regardless of what version of Office you are using."

The extent to which DocVerse will be integrated into Google's online offerings is not clear, but the technology may make it easier to port Microsoft Office documents into Google Apps, according to a DocVerse blog.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to scale our vision at Google," the DocVerse blog explains. "Our first step will be to combine DocVerse with Google Apps to create a bridge between Microsoft Office and Google Apps."

Jonathan Rochelle, a group product manager for the Google Apps team, declined to give further details about the integration of DocVerse and how it will be offered to Google's customers. He characterized DocVerse as helping to transition Office users as they move more toward the cloud-based world.

"The DocVerse set of features will make the Google Apps and Google Docs story -- and collaboration -- much richer," Rochelle said. "And it will help people discover, use and interoperate when they are ready to move to the cloud."

DocVerse stopped offering its product to new customers following Google's acquisition, but existing customers can continue to use it, a DocVerse FAQ explains.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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