For anyone who relies on Google’s suite of web-based office apps for editing Microsoft Office files, there’s good news this week: they will now open in editing mode by default.
It’s right to expect any file you open in Google’s apps to be instantly editable, but that’s not been the case until now for Office files. Attempting to open a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or Powerpoint presentation resulted in a preview version being loaded. Previews can’t be edited, so an extra step was required to either switch to Office editing mode, or opt to download the file.
Now Office editing mode will be the default for all compatible Office file types (.docx, .doc, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx, .xlsm). The one exception is documents that are password protected, which will continue to open in Preview mode. The switch to editing mode by default is happening automatically, so it should just start working. Google will roll out the feature in a gradual release starting this week, but it may take until Dec. 15 for everyone to experience the switch.
As Chrome Unboxed points out, the biggest impact this change will have is on Chromebook users. It will allow them to treat Office files just like any other using Google’s tools. The removal of a conversion stage gets rid of the frustration, and I’m sure Google will be pushing this as a selling point going forward, especially for business users.