Google's document editing and hosting service Google Docs supports a variety of formats. You can upload Microsoft Office or Open Office documents for instance, to access, edit or share those documents online. What you can also do is download documents to a computer you are working on, for instance to add a local document copy to it that you can work on when you do not have Internet.
If you have recently tried to download a doc, xls, or ppt document that is hosted on Google Docs, you may have noticed that it is automatically converted into a docx, xlsx or pptx document before it is being made available for download. The conversion may alter the existing document, but what is even more of an issue for some users is that they now have to work with a format that may not be supported on their computer.
There are ways around that. Microsoft is making available a compatibility pack for old versions of Office that users can install to add support for docx, xlsx and pptx documents. The open source alternatives Open Office and Libre Office are also supporting the format.
Up until now, this affected only Google Docs users, but not Google Apps users. This is going to change on October 1 when Google is rolling out the same change to Google Apps.
The following features are intended for release to these domains on October 1st:
Docs: Users no longer have the ability to export Google Docs format files in Office 1997-2003 format (.doc, .xls, .ppt).
This reduces the available formats that you can download your documents to. It feels kinda strange that you can't download documents that you have uploaded as doc, xls or ppt files in the very same format that you have uploaded them. If you are now thinking about synchronizing the documents with Google Drive, you are again running head first into a wall. If you analyze the documents that Google Drive syncs with a local computer, you will notice that all Office formats are listed with a size of 1 Kilobyte. The only option to make the documents available offline is to use Google Chrome and activate offline access in the browser.
This is a serious problem in my opinion, and one of the main reasons why I'm not using Google Drive. Competitors such as Dropbox or SkyDrive make files available offline if you are using their synchronization programs. Plus, they do not just convert document formats automatically before they make the files available for download.
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