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Rumor: Google is turning Quickoffice into a cloud-based Microsoft Office competitor

Google snags Quickoffice mobile productivity suite

Google may not’ve talked about its plans for Quickoffice at Google I/O this year, but the company is looking to turn its acquisition into a full-fledged Microsoft Office Web Apps competitor, according to ReadWriteWeb.

Quickoffice started out as an app-based office suite best known for its compatibility with Microsoft Office’s .DOCX file format, which is standard for files created with Office 2007 and later. With the app, users can basically open and edit any Word document or Powerpoint presentation on the go.

That’s what drew Google to acquire Quickoffice last June, with Google’s Engineering Director Alan Warren writing in the company blog last year that Quickoffice’s “seamless interoperability with popular file formats” is what it wants to bring to Google Apps. Currently, Quickoffice is available to business subscribers of Google Apps, which provides cloud-based office software like Google Docs and Sheets, as well as 30GB of cloud storage on Google Drive. But it seems Google is not content to let Quickoffice be just a sidekick to Google’s suite of office tools.

ReadWriteWeb’s sources are saying the Mountain View company has been “internally testing, or ‘dogfooding’ QuickOffice” to run as a cloud-based office suite in Chrome. It believes “QuickOffice will become the foundation of Google Apps.”

While Google Apps like Sheets and Docs are already popular with users, they are not compatible with the .DOCX file format that is baked into Quickoffice. By making Google Apps more compatible with Office standards, these tipsters seem “confident” that Microsoft won’t be able to “block Quickoffice with licensing issues of other legal threats.” Microsoft’s own lawyers would probably disagree, but that’s a whole other story.

According to these tipsters, Google’s target isn’t really the traditional desktop-based Office, it’s Office Web Apps. Microsoft has been pushing its own set of free and cloud-based office tools, Office Web Apps, which comes with free cloud storage accessible through SkyDrive.com, and works as the online companion to the traditional, desktop-based Office suite. That’s why Office Web Apps actually poses a more direct threat to Google Apps and Drive than Office. 

Microsoft is clearly wary of losing users to Google Apps, so it released a not-so tongue-in-cheek commercial and accompanying blog post that warns users about the gamble they take when ditching Office for Google Apps, just ahead of Google I/O last week. As you can see, both companies are already jostling for position, the the fight for cloud-based office suite users is only getting started. Who will be the ultimate victor?