Google today announced a huge change for Google Apps, including its Business, Education, and Government editions. As of October 1, users will no longer have the ability to download documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in old Microsoft Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt).

Assuming the Google Docs included Google Apps will be following in the footsteps of the Google Docs available to consumers, this means that the search giant will still support exporting into these Microsoft formats: Word (.docx), Excel (.xlsx), and PowerPoint (.pptx). Of course non-Microsoft formats will continue to be supported: ODT and RTF for documents, ODS and CSV for spreadsheets, SVG/PNG/JPEG for presentations, as well as PDF, TXT, and HTML for all three.

This is still not very good news for businesses that rely both on Google Docs and old Microsoft Office suites. While many have transitioned to the newer formats, most have not, and not being to export to them could cause massive company-wide headaches.

It’s worth noting that the full announcement for the Office support change reads as follows:

The following features are intended for release to these domains on October 1st:
Docs: Users no longer have the ability to download Google Docs in Office 2003-07 format (.doc, .xls, .ppt).

Notice that Google says “Office 2003-07 format (.doc, .xls, .ppt)” when the company likely means “Office 97-2003 format (.doc, .xls, .ppt).” I have contacted Google to double check this. I will update you if and when I hear back.

Update at 3:50PM EST: Yep. “You’re correct: we mean to say Office 97-2003 (not 2003-2007),” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ll update that.”

The spokesperson further wanted to point out that Microsoft offers a free Compatibility Pack for Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003. If you have this pack, you’ll be able to you open, edit, and save files using the .xxxX file formats in newer versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

In separate Google Apps news, the search giant today additionally rolled out the following feature: “Comments in Sites are now powered by Discussions. This brings powerful features like +mentioning, responding to comments via email, etc. to Google Sites.”

See also: Google Apps now lets you import emails and contacts from Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL into Gmail and Google kills Internet Explorer 8 support in Google Apps.

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