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Google Spreadsheets, one more reason not to pay for Microsoft Office


Google v. Msft
Google will launch a free Web-based spreadsheet application today, the latest in a series of challenges to Microsoft's dominance of essential office software. Here's the Merc story by colleague Elise Ackerman.

This follows Google's acquisition of Writely, an online word processor. Lately, we've talked with entrepreneurs who say they have considered moving over to use Google's ecosystem of products, away from Microsoft Office. This is one more product that could push them over the edge. You've already got Gmail, and a host of other "essential software" in Google Pack. It is frustrating, though, when Gmail's server goes down; the Web-based experience can still be embittering. But then you look at how Microsoft's Excel and Word programs each cost $229 for a new user, and $109 for an upgrade.

Google Spreadsheets requires no downloads and allows people to share or work on the same document online. It won't offer all of the bells and whistles that Microsoft's Excel program offers. Don't get your hopes up just yet. We don't have a link to the spreadsheet, because Google is limiting use to a small number of users who request to participate in a testing (beta) period. As of 7am, there is still nothing up at Google Labs, where it should be featured. (Update: Jon has a sneak peak here)

People will be able to open Excel documents (.xls) and Comma-Separated files (.csv) within the program. It will also be able to create files in the format used by Excel.

Google Spreadsheets grew out of an acquisition of 2Web Technologies last year, Google said. That New York company's product was called XL2Web.

Under Google's release, it will allow up to 10 users to collaborate, and reflects their changes in real time. It also offers a number of standard features, like frozen column headings and sorting, but does not have charting, autofilter or drag-and-drop capabilities. People can chat about it using Google's instant messaging program.

We've mentioned other competitors before. There's ZohoWriter, of Pleasanton, with its spreadsheet product. There are also OpenOffice, SimDesk and ThinkFree.

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I'm getting weary of people referring to these web apps as Office-killers. Most office workers - the core market for Office - are not going to switch to the feature-less, lightweight web clones of Office. Word, Execl, Access, etc may have their problems, but these are robust, hardened applications that allow you to do things you never could online. And let's not forget about privacy. No IT manager in his right mind is going to let this stuff sit on a remote, third-party server. For the casual user, perhaps. For die-hard office users, feh!

Joe Schmoe on June 6, 2006 9:11 AM
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I was able to gain access to it this morning and wrote a quick review including screenshots and a screeencast video here:

Jon Henshaw on June 6, 2006 9:13 AM
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Yup! Let's put confidential info on a 3rd party server & don't open that notebook if there no network connection - but do read WSJ articles on GDP :-)

my computer on June 6, 2006 12:38 PM
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I can see my kids using it instead of MS Office but, as an attorney, there is no way O can use it as it is not secure enough.

George Leavell on June 6, 2006 1:03 PM
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Google is targeting the home user, as this demographic is far larger than any other. For those of you who need all of Excel's features for work, guess what? Your business is paying for it, so it's essentially free for you when you're sitting at your office desk. But that's not the case when you go home. And that's also not the case for students and teachers who don't have the luxury of having a corporation pay the $200+ dollars required for Office.

Kris on June 6, 2006 2:53 PM
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I dont know what worse the remake of The Omen or Google Online Spreadsheet.

So they acquired a small company to make this happen. Which makes you wonder why they are hiring and over paying these PHD's to begin with.

space_acer on June 6, 2006 7:20 PM
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2) There are already other online spreadsheets out there.

3) Why did the Merc even print this on front page of Business section is strange. No corporation will use it.

space_acer on June 6, 2006 7:22 PM
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Why dont you download Open Office its free.

Space_acer on June 6, 2006 7:24 PM
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Wonder what the true game is. Launching a slew of apps which work half pace and are error prone and still get the hype machine talking! The much touted Calender, gmail ...
And now competing against excel? Hogwash.

Their best still is search, near impossible to beat. Maybe this is the way to keep the media and the world at work while the reality is in taking search to the next level...

They lost a big one in A9. Wonder why? They are weak on Blog search wonder why?

Ajit on June 7, 2006 1:12 AM
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For Kris,
No student or teacher should EVER spend $200+ on Microsoft Office, get the "Student/Teacher" version for $100, or do as Space_acer mentioned and get OpenOffice for free, Adobe also never threatened a lawsuit against them so you get FREE PDF creators in that.

Aaron on June 7, 2006 8:45 AM
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