Will My Existing Apps Work with Google Apps for Work?

Google Apps for Work provides a comprehensive suite of business solutions for any company. Business continuity necessitates the use of old applications and data, but in any transition, there are always employees who prefer to stick with what they know.

And in some cases, it’s out of necessity.

For example, some people who use Excel heavily (I’m talking like 60% of their daily tasks are in Excel-- a real spreadsheet pro) might need to continue using it to continue working the way they need to.

Fortunately, when your company migrates to Google Apps for Work, the suite supports preferences for legacy applications.

Your team will retain the ability to edit and share documents across platforms with ease – making your transition seamless, even for the most resistant to change.

Google Apps for Work has several avenues of support and integration to ensure clients can access every tool they need to succeed.


Chrome's Legacy Support

Chrome’s Legacy Brower Support (LBS) easily accommodates applications that demand older browsers. With this tool, your company can upgrade to Google Apps for Work without losing external applications or data. Users are directed automatically to the appropriate browser for each URL or application accessed with LBS.

Begin by installing Administrative Templates for your Windows Group Policy Editor. Next, compile a list of all the necessary applications and URLs that require a legacy browser.

Input each of these items into the “Hosts to Open in the Alternative Browser” section of your editor.  

Ask your system administrator to designate a homepage that displays each of these apps and URLs, then whitelist everything within it, thereby allowing employee access.

Even with Chrome as your default browser, legacy browsers will launch when necessary. A native host add-on is required to accomplish this transition. Every click determines which browser is best suited to the requested action.

For the next phase, consider beginning with a test group when implementing LBS. Select a small group of machines to run the LBS beta channel and install the Chrome Extension and Native Host add-ons. Only IT administrators can access the test version of this tool, so it is unlisted in the Chrome store. Reach out to Google or your Google Apps for Work partner to obtain the needed link – or find it through your Google Apps Admin console.

Once a beta version has been tested and approved, migrate your whole system to the stable LBS.

Do not use the test version in product environments, and make certain to eliminate it when you launch the stable LBS. Conflicts may occur if both iterations are present on the same systems.


Virtualization for Chrome

Some companies have built webpages or work environments around apps such as Microsoft Office or plug-ins such as Silverlight. In these instances, the transition to an entirely Chrome-based platform may be slowed.

Remote access tools allow you to use legacy apps and existing systems on Chrome devices anywhere.

Two examples of these functions are virtual network computing (VNC) and remote desktop protocols (RDP).

There are options for both hosted remote access solutions and apps that must be stored behind your firewall. In the latter case, many companies are using the Citrix XenApp to combine cloud-based applications and critical legacy systems on Chromebooks. Citrix securely delivers access to each application through a centralized virtual environment for cohesive access.

VMware Horizon Daas provides consolidated access to applications, data, and desktops by leveraging the cloud. Companies employing apps that do not need to live behind a firewall enjoy this platform’s efficiency and security. Chromebooks also support Amazon WorkSpaces, which is a fully managed cloud solution.

Each option facilitates easy access to all necessary applications, whether Google-based or otherwise.


Using Microsoft Office and Google for Work

If you have employees who simply do not want to let go of Microsoft Office applications, Google Apps for Work reconciles that.

With the Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office, your team can access Google Drive documents without leaving Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook. The plug-in has to be installed on the user’s computer, so the system administrator must allow access. From the Admin console, open Apps, then Google Apps, followed by Drive, and then Data Access. From here, you can allow users to install the Drive plug-in.  

Each user can download the Drive plug-in once you allow access. In enterprise solutions with many employees, you may choose to have your system administrator push the plug-in files out to all users instead.

This option allows customization of cached content location and Google Update usage but is a more complicated process.

There are several ways to reach and edit documents that are now accessible through the Drive plug-in. On a desktop, Google Drive will appear as a file storage location while working inside Microsoft Office applications. Simply open, edit, and save back to the Drive.

Google encrypts each document and stores it that way, even after it’s been edited in an outside application.

Users working in Chrome can navigate to their Drive and open Microsoft Office documents from there. Simply click on the desired file and select “Open In.” Your selection will open in whichever application you choose and can be saved directly to the Google Drive. While in transit, make use of the Google mobile apps to open and edit Microsoft documents on the fly.

Download Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive to your mobile device. Your Microsoft Office files will be available for you to edit through Drive – just as they are in a desktop environment.

Here are the ways to create Microsoft Office documents on a mobile device:

  1. Android – Click on the upper left menu bar within the desired Google application, such as Docs. Select “Settings” and then check the box next to “Create Word Files.” You can use the same process in each application.

  2. iOS – There is no express option to create a new Microsoft Office document, but it is possible. Open an existing Office document on your mobile device, select “Share and Export,” followed by “Make a Copy.” Delete the contents of the copy and create your own file in the ready Microsoft template. Make certain to save it with a new name when finished.

Whichever environment and device you choose to work in, Google Apps for Work supports a cohesive workflow and easy sharing.



Google Apps for Work is a fully supportive product suite that allows easy collaboration. Handing employees the tools to create a great set of files is not enough in this mobile age. The ability to share, edit, and distribute across platforms is essential to modern workflow.

If your business is considering a transition to Google Apps for Work, have confidence in its ability to support each of your employee’s preferences and bring everything together into one cohesive workflow.

No one should have any trouble with this transition.