Microsoft and Google are invading each other’s turf with new features and offers to woo customers to their respective productivity suites.
Today, Google said it has added the ability to comment on Microsoft files, as well as PDFs and images, without leaving its Drive storage tool or converting documents. That, coincidentally, comes one day after Microsoft pushed a new offer to poach customers using Google Drive or other file storage services like Box or Dropbox to OneDrive.
Like many tech giants, Google and Microsoft compete in a variety of arenas, and a big one is productivity tools. Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite both offer a variety of tools, many of which overlap. Microsoft appears to have the edge when it comes to business customers, but Google is making a serious push in that direction.
The new features from Google allow users to interact with Microsoft files by opening them in a preview mode in Google Drive. G Suite users can comment directly on files, call out co-workers or assign tasks without having to convert the documents to Docs, Sheets or other Google files or open other tools to complete tasks. The comments come through even as files bounce back and forth between Microsoft and Google users.
Here’s an example of how the service might work, from a Google blog post:
When you’re collaborating with an external agency, negotiating a contract with a client or coordinating a sales agreement with a supplier, chances are you’re dealing with multiple file formats. With this update, you can now comment on those files in Drive the way you’re used to in Google Docs. In the Drive preview pane, comment, assign tasks, or mention coworkers and the people you work can reply back, even if they’re not using G Suite. Let’s say your coworker opens a file on her Windows laptop using MS Word, she will see your comment in the file and can reply right from there.
Microsoft has been adding new features to its cloud-based file sharing and management OneDrive in recent months, and a new offer is meant to put pressure on competitors. Microsoft yesterday began a temporary offer to give companies using Google, Box or Dropbox free access to OneDrive for Business for the remainder of their contracts with the other file sharing providers, essentially buying them out from competitors. The offer requires a 500-user commitment and is good through June 30.
It’s an aggressive move for Microsoft, as it tries to beef up its customer base for OneDrive. The company said more than 350,000 organizations have OneDrive, and storage and file usage within the program tripled in 2017. In a blog post, Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for Office 365 Marketing, called out several big enterprises now using OneDrive, including Accenture, Lowe’s, DBS Bank, Land O’Lakes and Rackspace.
Here is an example of how these companies use OneDrive, from Microsoft’s blog post:
Accenture uses OneDrive for their 400,000 employees as they travel the globe, accessing over two petabytes of files in the cloud across their devices. Lowe’s recently rolled out OneDrive to 260,000 employees—empowering them to share with colleagues and customers across their 2,200 retail stores.