Spreadsheets +Writely = Google Docs

Thursday Oct 12th 2006 by Nicholas Carlson
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Google continues its slow, steady move toward Microsoft's turf.

Google officially launched Google Docs & Spreadsheets yesterday at the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Docs is a Web-based word-processing and spreadsheet that Google said is designed to make it easier for people to create, manage and share documents and spreadsheets online.

Google Spreadsheets has been in beta testing since June. Back then, product manager Jonathan Rochelle said that the product's "biggest wow feature" is the ability for multiple people to simultaneously edit spreadsheets and chat.

Rochelle also said that in time, Google would add features to the product beyond its spreadsheet capabilities. That time has arrived.

Now, with a Google Account, a compatible Web browser and an Internet connection, you can export and import a wider variety of file formats. There's now an option to publish the documents to a blog or as an HTML page, too.

Google Docs is available as a free beta starting today at this Web site.

Microsoft dominates the market for office productivity applications with its Office software suite. Google isn't the first to challenge Microsoft, in fact there are other online spreadsheets designed to facilitate collaboration, such as JotSpot Tracker.

Google said it intended the product to complement existing solutions by adding its collaboration and document-management features to the productivity options people already enjoy.

But when Google Spreadsheets came out in beta last summer, Microsoft withheld enthusiasm.

"Google's new spreadsheet product is just an imitation of functionality that many other vendors already deliver," Microsoft spokesperson Heather Gillissen said then.

"The innovations we're delivering in Excel in terms of new usability, new visual user interface advancements, support for collaboration and business intelligence with things like Excel Services are so far beyond [Google Spreadsheets] that it's like watching a time machine from 10 years ago."

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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