Central Desktop, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) collaboration platform provider, today announced the availability of its cloud-based Microsoft Office collaboration tool, Central Desktop for Office. The new product claims seamless, real-time integration between Microsoft Office and the cloud to “radically improve” the way users collaborate on Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Once installed, Central Desktop for Office adds a new toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint that allows users to interact with files stored online without ever having to open a Web browser. Using this toolbar, users can simultaneously co-author Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in real-time, as well as open and save files directly into the cloud. Central Desktop for Office is powered by OffiSync technology and is compatible with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010.

“As more and more companies adopt online collaboration tools like Central Desktop, one of the biggest challenges they face is how to make the transition to working in the cloud as smooth as possible,” said Isaac Garcia, CEO and co-founder of Central Desktop. “Because most people are accustomed to working with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite, we wanted to develop a way for them to easily engage in web-based collaboration while remaining in the familiar Word, Excel and PowerPoint environments. Central Desktop for Office solves this issue by enabling users to access, edit and co-author files stored in the cloud directly from within Office.”

Key Features of Central Desktop for Office:

  • Open/Save Files from Office – Access Microsoft Office files stored online in Central Desktop without having to open a web browser. Saving any document in Word, Excel or PowerPoint automatically syncs it to the cloud so that the most recent version of the document is always available both online and on the desktop.
  • Simultaneously Co-Author Files – Multiple authors can edit the same Word, Excel or PowerPoint document at the same time directly from Office. When one user saves a change, all other users in the document will immediately be prompted to preview and merge the edits into one updated version. This feature is particularly powerful for business teams with multiple collaborators for documents such as project plans, legal agreements, budget forecasts and sales presentations.
  • Comment on Files – Add file comments directly to any Word, Excel or PowerPoint document in order to foster discussion and collaboration. The comments are also synced online to Central Desktop.
  • Track Version History – Each time a file is saved, the updated document is automatically added to the online version history in Central Desktop, making it easy to revert back to previous versions.
  • Notify and Manage Collaborators – Add, remove and notify collaborators of any document within Office to ensure that the right users can access and edit files.
  • File Search – Search for other Word, Excel and PowerPoint files saved in the cloud directly from the Central Desktop for Office toolbar.

While Microsoft Office 2010 also includes co-authoring capabilities, Central Desktop for Office provides the same functionality without requiring the costly upgrade to the new suite. With its comprehensive set of online collaboration tools for both internal and external communication, Central Desktop looks a competitive SharePoint alternative for small and medium-sized businesses.

Central Desktop for Office is available in both free and premium versions. The free version is available for all Central Desktop users and includes the ability to open and save files from the Central Desktop for Office toolbar. The premium version includes extended functionality including the co-authoring feature and is available for $30/user/year.