Last November, Zoho announced that they were adding offline editing support to Zoho Writer using Google Gears. We mentioned how ironic it was that Zoho was using Google’s service (Google Gears) to make the offline editing support available, yet Google still wasn’t offering any type of offline editing or synchronization option for Google Docs. At last, Google has caught up to one of their competitors and they are now offering offline access for Google Docs.

Over the next few weeks, users of Google Docs will start to notice the offline capabilities added to their accounts. Of course just like Zoho, it is powered by Google Gears and users will be able to get access to their documents whether they have an Internet connection or not. When you make a change to a document while offline, the changes are then updated when you connect again, seamlessly. The announcement over at the Google Docs Blog points out how for now, offline access is only available for Docs and not Presentations or Spreadsheets. This leads us to question whether Zoho or Google will be the first to add offline support to their spreadsheet application?

Below is a video from the Google Docs team that explains how this all works:

All in all this is good news. Even Zoho commented about this and how Google’s announcement “illustrates the rapid progress being made in online applications, and how quickly they are emerging as viable competitors to the traditional desktop suites.” By traditional desktop suites, we’re sure they’ve got Microsoft Office in mind. Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho also commented that in this situation, ultimately users are the winners thanks to all of the competition, which is true.

Had Zoho not gone along and implemented the offline functionality first, would Google have pushed as hard as they did to make it available for Google Docs? Another question is what does this mean for Microsoft Office, if anything? We’re doubtful that people will completely stop using Microsoft Office, especially if they already own it in favor of Zoho or Google Docs. A more likely scenario is that users will have a use for both and will use Zoho or Google Docs for some things while using Microsoft Office for others.

There’s no doubt that Zoho and Google Docs are doing well for themselves and provide each other with a little healthy competition.

Note: If you need help figuring out how to bring your Google Docs offline, checkout the Google Docs Help Center.

Thanks for the tip Omar!