Google announced yesterday (April 12th 2010) the release of their new and upgraded version of Google DOCS.

In case you are not familiar what Google DOCS is, here is brief overview:

“Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007. Data storage of any files up to 1GB each in size was introduced on January 13, 2010.” – WIKIPEDIA

Google’s announcement does not come as a surprise. Why? Well…Microsoft prepares to launch the latest version of it Office suite named Office 2010. Microsoft is also going to launch the Office Starter version which will be free and will come pre-installed on most new desktops and laptops. This new “light” version of office will replace the old well known Office Works.

Google DOCS is free for personal use and costs $50 for businesses per year. If you are a large business and need to purchase a lot of licenses Google will entitle you with a good discount too. In comparison, MS Office 2010 will set-off users and businesses between $99 and $499, depending on the version they purchase.

The new generation of Google DOCS adds a lot of well anticipated features like:

– Supports imported documents

– Drag-and-Drop columns in spreadsheets is now available

– Allows collaboration for up  to 50 people that can work at the same time

– Improves speed

– Adds a new drawing application to aid creation of graphs

Here is a quick video that goes through the new version of Google DOCS:

Don’t be fooled though – Microsoft is not quietly watching Google and its progress towards Cloud computing.

Microsoft Office 2010 Cloud offerings are now available in a free beta. Microsoft claims that it will offer free, ad supported Web versions of their Office suite applications.

There is certainly a lot to like about Google DOCS, and the new version just added a lot more. The new features and functionality of Google DOCS will satisfy most users and their appetite for document creation, processing, and collaboration, all easily done in the Cloud! Users that need complex documents, spreadsheet, presentations or diagrams will have to revert back to MS Office Suite, but studies show that most business users only use about 10% of the MS Office Suite functionalities.

Google DOCS is definitely making an impact in the industry, but only time will tell if their approach proves to be better than Microsoft’s.

The battle for Cloud dominance between Google and Microsoft is inevitable and when it comes down to products like MS Office, Microsoft may just have the edge to win the battle and the war…As consumers we all benefit from that kind of competition, and as an end result we receive great products like Google DOCS that let us work and collaborate from virtually anywhere in the world!