Google Spreadsheets turns up heat on Excel

Web-based program puts search giant in even more competition with rival Microsoft. Images: Google's Excel challenge

Google is set to launch on Tuesday a Web-based spreadsheet program that will allow people to view and simultaneously edit data while conducting "in-document" chat, a company product manager said Monday.

Google Spreadsheets The launch of Google Spreadsheets puts the search engine in even more heated competition with Microsoft, whose desktop-based Excel spreadsheet program is a standard office tool.

Google, which acquired the Writely Web-based word processor in March, is unleashing Web-based services of programs that propelled Microsoft to dominance on the desktop. Microsoft is responding by revamping its business to focus on Web services under the Windows Live and Office Live monikers. Poll

Would you switch from Microsoft Excel to Google Spreadsheets?

No: Excel and Office work just fine for me
Yes: Office is too pricey and complex
Maybe: I'm looking for alternatives to Office

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Google Spreadsheets, which will go live on Tuesday as part of Google Labs, supports the import and export of documents in the .xls format used in Excel and the .csv (comma-separated values) format, said Jonathan Rochelle, product manager for Google Spreadsheets.

The service provides automatic saving, so once a document is saved for the first time it is saved upon every change, as well as enables easy transfer of data from cell to cell, inserting and deleting of rows and columns and supports multiple sheets or tabs, he said.

Consumers must have a Google account to use the service.

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