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On October 1, Google had planned to drop the option to export Google Apps documents in older, proprietary Microsoft Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt). These file formats were used in Office 97-2003 and Google assumed that Apps customers interested in exporting files would be satisfied with more modern, open Office formats (docx, .xlsx, .pptx).
But Google erred in that assumption. Last week's scheduled removal of older Office export formats was never implemented, due to customer complaints.
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Google hasn't said how many customers objected, but in a brief post on Google+, Amit Singh, VP of Google Enterprise, noted that he was "surprised [at] how many of you want to stay on Office 2003 and use [Google] Docs to interoperate."
Singh noted that Google has extended support for exporting files in older Office formats until January 31, 2013, for scheduled release track customers.
Google introduced its scheduled release track last year because many of the company's business customers objected to its practice of updating its software as rapidly as possible. For companies with complicated IT systems, unanticipated technical changes can wreak havoc. The scheduled release track provides administrators with at least a week to test new features in Google's online applications.
For older Office formats, maybe three more months will suffice.
Supporting ancient Office formats may be necessary at the moment, but Google isn't giving up on its belief that it can convince companies to "go Google." It's reinforcing its siege of Office by empowering the allies it has been gathering through its reseller program. On Wednesday, Google introduced a Reseller API to help IT service providers and business tool developers create software that interoperates with Google Apps for Business, Google Drive, and Google Apps Vault. In so doing, it makes its partners better able to add value to Google Apps and to make Google's cloud services more compelling.