If you’ve ever tried explaining Google Docs to a long-time Microsoft Office user who isn’t familiar with buzzwords like “cloud computing” and “real-time collaboration”, you probably know that it can be a trying task. Sure, Docs offers a visual tour and an introductory video walkthrough, but sometimes the lightbulb doesn’t really turn on for people until they’ve tried it for themselves. Today, Google has made that a bit easier: it just launched a new site at docs.google.com/demo, which allows users to try full-fledged versions of its word processor, spreadsheet, and drawing tool without a Google account. The site is linked to from the Google Docs homepage with a prominent button that says “Try Google Docs Now”.
Using the site is as simple as it could be. When you first hit docs.google.com/demo, you’ll see a newly generated document instructing you to start typing, along with a notice that the sample document you’re editing is only available for 24 hours. More important, the document comes with a link that allows you to invite other users to collaboratively edit it (again, these invited users won’t need to have a Google account).
Sure, it’s not exactly a huge new feature, but it significantly lowers the barrier to entry to getting people to try out Docs for themselves. And when it comes to getting the attention of the millions of users who are on Office simply because it’s all they know, that’s important.
Via Matt Cutts on Twitter
Google Docs is Google’s free web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application. The online app allows users to easily share documents and collaboratively work on them in real-time. On March 31st, 2008, the Google Docs team announced integration with Google Gears, allowing users to edit their documents offline.