If you're a Google Apps organization, you and your employees likely have tabs open for your email, calendar and docs all the time. That may no longer be necessary.
Over the last couple of years (really, since Larry Page took over as CEO) Google has been rolling out a series of big and small changes to Google Apps for Business. Each change has given more and more business customers a viable alternative to the Microsoft suite of business products, such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange server. In fact, more than 5 million businesses now use Google's service, giving it about 50 percent of the "cloud-office" market
. At first, the Google Apps products were just an ultra-low cost (and similarly low-feature) alternative to Microsoft. But with each change, Google Apps gets closer and closer to replicating the full feature set of Microsoft—even though little has changed about the price.
Last week's change was minor in scope, but a big improvement in convenience and efficiency. And it was aimed squarely at the tight integration in Microsoft Office between Entourage, and Word and Excel, even as it leverages two of Google's key differentiated strengths: search and the cloud.
Google rolled out real-time search
of most of your Google Apps services right from the search bar in your email. In other words, you just have to go to the top of your inbox to pull up that doc or spreadsheet—or to jump straight to the event someone just sent you an agenda for. Start typing in the search bar and matching people, emails, events and docs will start appearing in the drop down below. When what you want appears, click and whoosh! It'll take you right there.
And here's a pro-tip for people who use Google Drive. Drive gives you a lot of control over who sees what in your company, but just because you make something visible to everyone in your company doesn't mean it's easy to find, because you have to specifically search your entire company. It's much easier if you create a master folder for the company and put all your docs (organized into a nice hierarchy, of course) in that folder. Then, have each person add that folder to their "My Drive," and voila! Everything you've shared will be easy to browse and search. When you don't want to something share with everyone, you can always change permissions for an individual folder or document, and it will disappear from everyone else's drive.