Cloud computing, despite security and privacy concerns, continues to be more and more prevalent. For word-processing online, Google Docs remains extremely popular, with Microsoft Office Live steadily gaining ground.

If you want to use a desktop version of Microsoft Office, but want the cloud advantage of Google Docs, give Google Cloud Connect a try.

Google Cloud Connect is a free plugin for Microsoft Office

Cloud Connect works with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, and 2010. Specifically, it works with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It is only available for users running Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It is not available for any version of Microsoft Office for Mac, but hopefully that will change.

Cloud Connect is a free plugin that essentially allows you to turn your desktop version of Office into a cloud-based version. Once you install the plugin, it becomes part of your toolbar.

Why you should use Cloud Connect

The advantages are numerous. One, it allows collaborative editing—more than one person can edit a document while it is open. If there are conflicts, Cloud Connect will notify you and you can choose which version to save.

Two, it syncs with Google Docs. Everytime you save the document, it syncs with the cloud. Everytime someone else edits the document, it syncs that with the cloud. Everytime you make a change, Google Docs saves a new version—which makes it easy to roll backwards if necessary.

Three, you can share documents with other users without having to e-mail it to them. You can add additional users and give them editing authority, or only share it as a read-only link.

Four, you can still work on documents offline. Once you are back online, it will automatically resync with the cloud. If others have made changes, you have a chance to review and modify them prior to saving.

In other words, it provides lots of sweet advantages, without much downside.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michigancommunities/5142383193/)