Google combines word processing, spreadsheets

Beta of Google Docs & Spreadsheets launches; free product lets people collaborate online in real time.

Google is diving further into the Web-based productivity-applications market by offering a new product that combines its online word-processing and spreadsheet programs.

The company launched on Wednesday a beta version of Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The free program lets people create, manage and share documents and spreadsheets on the Web.

The program enables people to collaborate online in real time, use a variety of file formats for importing and exporting, and publish documents and spreadsheets on a Web page or blog.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

Google is not targeting the desktop productivity suite market place that Microsoft dominates with Office, despite speculation that it is, said Jonathan Rochelle, Google Docs & Spreadsheets product manager.

"It made sense to combine these products and people were asking for that," he said. "It doesn't change our strategy. This is complementary to desktop products...and lacks certain advanced features" of desktop products.

Starting with e-mail, Google has been launching Web-based services and software in a move seen by many as encroaching on Microsoft's turf. Microsoft has responded by revamping its business to focus on Web services under the Windows Live and Office Live monikers.

Google acquired the online word-processing application Writely in March and launched Google Spreadsheets in June. Google recently opened Writely up to the public.

Google also sells a product to corporations and organizations that they can offer their employees and members for free called Google Apps for Your Domain that ties together Web-based e-mail, calendar, chat and Web page publishing.

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