Microsoft brings Excel online--with SharePoint

Microsoft offers a Web version of Excel. But there's an important difference with hosted spreadsheets from competitors like Google and Zoho: it's tied to SharePoint Server and Office 2007.

A Microsoft employee set off a post at TechCrunch when the employee, Tod Hilton, wrote a blog talking about his plans to start working on the Excel Services team.

Hilton wrote that a future product would compete with online spreadsheets like DabbleDB, Zoho, and Google Spreadsheets. He later removed those comparisons from his blog post.

In the course of posting and unposting, Hilton shined light on a product that few people in the media have picked up on called Excel Services.

People for years have been asking Microsoft when it will offer a , something that competitors are doing which could threaten my Microsoft's Office business.

It turns out the Microsoft already does. But, it works with Microsoft's SharePoint portal server and Office 2007. And it appears to be designed primarily for sharing spreadsheets with a company workgroup.

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