It's no surprise, then, that Google has added QuickOffice to bolster Chrome OS. "Google has to do a lot more with Chrome OS to make [Chromebooks] more attractive in the enterprise," said Hilwa. "The platform has to be bolstered with serious apps that add value."
And taking QuickOffice to the browser also makes sense. "They want to bring the fight [for business apps] to as many platforms as they can," he said. "A more native experience in their stack is a must play in the enterprise [because] Google's problem is to break Microsoft's dominance, and to do that they need to do everything they can."
But Gottheil wasn't as sure as Hilwa that QuickOffice in a browser had to come close to the experience of Microsoft's Office -- or achieve 100% document fidelity -- to hurt Microsoft.
"What Microsoft has to be afraid of is large businesses with large Office deployments taking a look at their usage patterns, and deciding that they can split employees into two groups, one that must have the real Office, the other where Google Apps or QuickOffice are good enough," argued Gottheil. "I don't see that happening yet, but if it does, that's trouble up and down the line for Microsoft."
How Google will price QuickOffice as a native client on Chrome OS and/or Chrome remains a mystery. One pretty good bet: QuickOffice native client will be bundled with Apps for Business, which costs $5 per user per month, or $50 per user per year.
Google would probably sell a native client version of QuickOffice through the Chrome Web Store, which already features a smattering of native client applications and games.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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