Google made announcements to upcoming changes to its popular Google Docs system this week which will affect its ability to export documents to older versions of Microsoft Office.
While Google has been known in the past to kill unpopular products, (Google Wave and Google Buzz in 2010/2011 were its most spectacular failures) this year has been more about solidifying its product line.
In an announcement yesterday Google said its system would no longer support older 1997-2007 Office Suite formats, which include .doc, .xls and .ppt. This could mean some troubles for companies which rely on the older software suits and Google Docs. While many companies have already transitioned over to the newer format, many have not and being unable to export to the older formats will certainly cause a few IT headaches.
Microsoft was quick to point out that it offers a free compatibility pack for Office 2000, XP and 2003 which will allow users to open, edit and save in the new formats.
Google’s move to stop support for the older format could be seen as a boon for Microsoft as companies feel a need to upgrade their software, while on the other hand, more people may be inclined to ditch their off-line office suites and make the permanent switch to Google Docs (a trend that Google is probably rooting for).
With the trend for more people to use tablet and smartphone to access the internet the move by Google could also be seen as it losing faith in the long-term sustainability of supporting defunct desktop environments.