Google has said its corporate Gmail customers will now be able to edit documents and other files without leaving the email service, as it aims to lure clients from rivals by making its tools more integrated.
The announcement was made at Google's cloud unit's annual customer and partner conference, which has been turned into a virtual gathering over several weeks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Google has been trying for more than a decade to catch up with Microsoft's Office, which dominates the global market for corporate email and document editing tools. Both companies have been adding new video-calling features and other collaboration tools to attract new business from companies operating from home during the pandemic.
Google contends it has found an edge with potential customers by promoting Gmail as a single hub for workers to access text chats, video calls and now documents. Microsoft has limited tie-ins between its email and chat tools, Outlook and Teams.
"Microsoft is still telling you there's two separate places to check, two different habits, two inboxes to look at," Javier Soltero, a Google vice president who used to work for Microsoft, said in an interview on Wednesday.
"And they are not incentivised to do a deep integration between Teams and Outlook," Soltero said, without elaborating.
Consumers using the free version of Gmail may have access to the new integrations in the future, Soltero said.
Microsoft, which has continued to post fast Office revenue growth, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google has introduced some options already on Microsoft Teams, including the ability for chat users to list an "out of office" notice and "pin" conversations to make them easier to find later.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)