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Google Launches Online Spreadsheet System 485

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-it's-on-now dept.
Accommodate Students writes "In a move that is sure to cause even more discussion of Google's intentions to go head-to-head with Microsoft in the Office Suite arena, they have launched a spreadsheet. AP is reporting this as 'Google further invades its rival's territory.' You can share spreadsheets with other users and can chat while you're editing -- multiplayer spreadsheets! It can read both CSV and XLS formats." More from the article: "Google is targeting Office, which generated $2.95 billion in sales and $2.09 billion in profit in Microsoft's third quarter ended March 31. Microsoft plans a new release this year and is trying to get Office into more consumers' hands at a cheaper price while persuading businesses to buy higher-priced versions."
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Google Launches Online Spreadsheet System

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:52AM (#15478989) Journal
    One of these days, I'm going to go to Slashdot and see that Google has unvealed that all their services are now a WebOS.

    Go to Google, check your Gmail (stored in your user space), bring up saved searches, research with Google scholar, manage your saved Google webpages, edit your Google spreadsheets (stored in your user space), edit your Google blog in a file directory using Google Word, veiw your map locations in saved tabs of Google maps, start up Google Talk to chat with your friends, manage your finances with Google Finance, etc. I mean, it doesn't take much imagination to see how this would work. Other WebOS's out there try to do things like this but lack the applications and userspace/stability. I'd expect GoogleOS to give you 5~10GB worth of space and work through any browser.

    This article is trying to get accross the point that Google is targeting MS Office but in my opinion I think that Google is targeting MS Windows and fleshing out their applications suites before they push for launching a user space or OS type web project. Perhaps all you'll need pretty soon to be productive is a machine with Linux installed & merely a good web browser?
    • AJAX is the key (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wouldn't it be ironic that the very technology that M$ came up with could be their biggest weakness to date? After all, it's tech like AJAX that is allowing web based apps that can more closely approximate their native bretheren. This doesn't speak well for Java though, since IT was supposed to be the language/environment that brought "light" productivity to the desktop over the net.

      Then again, despite what Google claims (and their fanboys regurgitate), Google is an evil company whose primary objective
      • Re:AJAX is the key (Score:5, Interesting)

        by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:32AM (#15479239) Homepage Journal
        Having two monopolies (one heavy native and one light web based) isn't much better than having one.
        But it is better. I, for one, can't wait until I can use this, as I'm often asked at my job to generate Excel reports of insurance claim data to send off to insurance company employees, and it'll be nice not to have to open up OO.org just to copy and paste the CSV data from the DB just to convert it to XLS, as the recipients of the spreadsheet wouldn't know what to do with comma-separated data.

        I'll just have to make sure that Google allows for adequate privacy; although with the normally sensitive information stored in spreadsheets, I'd be surprised if they didn't.
        • Conversion (Score:5, Informative)

          by martyb (196687) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:58AM (#15480446)
          I, for one, can't wait until I can use this, as I'm often asked at my job to generate Excel reports of insurance claim data to send off to insurance company employees, and it'll be nice not to have to open up OO.org just to copy and paste the CSV data from the DB just to convert it to XLS, as the recipients of the spreadsheet wouldn't know what to do with comma-separated data. (emphasis added)

          Here is a fish: (*) What if there were a tool that would, say, convert CSV to XLS format? Knowing that a huge number of translators are available, I took a guess and googled:

          csv2xls [google.com]
          and first on the list was:
          csv2xls.pl [cpan.org]

          Learn how to fish: In general, "There's got to be a better way" is a flag which tells me:

          • - Wait a minute!
          • - There may already be a solution.
          • - Don't reinvent the wheel.
          • - Look and see what other people have done in the same (or in a similar) situation.

          So, this problem was an instance of the general case of looking for a tool that converts from one extension to another. ps2pdf, pdf2txt,

          Even if I don't find an all-inclusive solution to my problem, I often find other supporting tools that make my life easier. Further, I can then often use those tools / techniques to simplify things to the point where I CAN solve the problem.

          (*) Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. [bartleby.com] - Chinese Proverb

      • Re:AJAX is the key (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon@NosPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:37AM (#15479283) Homepage Journal
        Having two monopolies (one heavy native and one light web based) isn't much better than having one.

        You can't have two competing monopolies - it's no longer a monopoly once you have 2. That's kind of what the "mono" in "monopoly" implies. And I'd argue that having two companies, even if they are both evil, competing is WAY better than having one monolothic company with a strangelhold on the market. It's the difference between a monopoly (worst possible scenario) and an oligopoly. As long as you can rule out collusion it's going to be good for consumers. Not as good as lots of smaller, agile, innovating companies - but still a step in the right direction.

        As for the whole "Google is evil" thing; I don't see where that comes from. You write: Google is an evil company whose primary objective is to use everyone elses content to generate revenue (hmmm, they launch this service today, coincidence?) As far as I can tell your implication is that Google is somehow parasitic in that they don't actually make content themselves, but they do profit from the content that others make.

        I fail to see how this really makes sense. This may be a shock to you, but there's more to the internet than just content. It's kind of like the difference between a product and a service: both can be valuable. How much worth would wikipedia be if all the content was there but instead of being divided into articles and searchable it was one long series of images (so that you couldn't even search for text via a text editor). It's the exact same info, but without the capacity to easily access that info it's not nearly as valuable.

        So if Google wants to make it's money by making the information on the web more accessible (and ulimately expanding to making other information e.g. scholarly articles, every book ever written, satellite photos of the earth, maps, etc.) then they deserve to make money from it. Accessibility IS valuable. So what is your issue?

        I'm not saying they have never done anything wrong or that they are perfect. They're record with China is morally ambigous at best and they're complicit with the opression of a large chunk of the world's population at worst. Just that I don't have any issues with their core business philosophy. They're even making advertising more relevant and less intrusive. How is this a bad thing?

        -stormin
      • Re:AJAX is the key (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Eil (82413) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:36AM (#15480233) Homepage Journal
        Google is an evil company whose primary objective is to use everyone elses content to generate revenue

        Well if that's your criterion for evil may I suggest you stay far away from Slashdot, Yahoo, digg, reddit, flickr, delicious, craigslist, ebay, online bookstores, all usenet providers, news sites, weather sites, forum websites, every commercial search engine in existance, and let's not forget ISPs themselves.

        In fact, to keep a safe distance from all this evil, it's probably just safer if you never go online again. None of us would complain.
    • This article is trying to get accross the point that Google is targeting MS Office but in my opinion I think that Google is targeting MS Windows and fleshing out their applications suites before they push for launching a user space or OS type web project. Perhaps all you'll need pretty soon to be productive is a machine with Linux installed & merely a good web browser?

      Only if you don't mind having no privacy and always need a working Internet connection to do any work.

      • by i-neo (176120) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:21AM (#15479155)
        Only if you don't mind having no privacy and always need a working Internet connection to do any work.

        You will probably be able to do your work locally with your browser since it is possible for AJAX application to delay data sending. Therefore it shouldn't be a problem for Spreadsheet or Word like application.
        • Sounds good, but I'd rather they just released a spreadsheet app I could host myself rather than having to give my data back to them when I'm done working on it.

          This is a perennial problem with ASPs in my line of work. A team of our users want something like this, someone from the $ASP sales department comes in and sells them on the "benefits of online collaboration, centralized storage, and blah, blah, blah." They buy into the service and then later discover what a PITA it is to get your hands on all o

      • by halr9000 (465474) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:37AM (#15479285) Homepage
        >>Perhaps all you'll need pretty soon to be productive is a machine with Linux installed & merely a good web browser?

        >Only if you don't mind having no privacy and always need a working Internet connection to do any work.

        I hear what you are saying. But I think its just a matter of time before someone just up and solves the problem. What if all of your data stored online were encrypted with a private key--one which your service provider does not hold in escrow? As long as your connection is encrypted, and the "static" store is encrypted--that's fairly private, wouldn't you say?

        I think your second point is a non-issue, or its getting there. I got a Sprint PPC-6700 recently (WinMo 5 PDA/phone, fast EVDO data line) and its gotten me quite used to always having the net available pretty much anywhere. Yes, a fall-back is a good thing, but how many dumb users run regular backups? Same number won't care about an offline copy.
    • by wbren (682133) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:07AM (#15479078) Homepage
      Go to Google, check your Gmail (stored in your user space), bring up saved searches, research with Google scholar, manage your saved Google webpages, edit your Google spreadsheets (stored in your user space), edit your Google blog in a file directory using Google Word, veiw your map locations in saved tabs of Google maps, start up Google Talk to chat with your friends, manage your finances with Google Finance, etc. I mean, it doesn't take much imagination to see how this would work. Other WebOS's out there try to do things like this but lack the applications and userspace/stability. I'd expect GoogleOS to give you 5~10GB worth of space and work through any browser.
      Right, and only two of the existing services you mentioned are any good. Gmail and Google Maps are great, but Google's other offerings (including search recently! [theregister.co.uk]) fall flat. The rest are just there for the sake of being able to say, "Google can do this too." Well yeah, but it does it worse than existing products.
      • by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:23AM (#15479631) Homepage
        Gmail and Google Maps are great,...

        Google Maps is a sad joke, outside of the US at least. The problem is completely inaccurate map data. Here's an example, a link to a spot in Osaka, Japan [google.com]. A visually distinct intersection, in fact. Click between "Satellite" and "Map", and notice how the intersection - and all other map data - shifts about 20 meters or so.

        The issue is that they bought mapping data (the same government data all the other Japanese map services use) and just plonked it in, without correcting for the fact that Japan (like almost every other territory) uses its own, locally corrected projection, and the data needs to be adjusted for this if it is to fit with the satellite data (or the WGS84 projection used for Google maps in general). I bug reported this over a year ago - I'm sure many people did - and the only thing that seems to have happened is that the hybrid view is now disabled.

        A map service that will send you to the wrong block in a congested city because of an elementary omission like this is not exactly a feather in any organizational cap.
        • Before you blame the vector data, you need to look into the provider of the imagery and realize that it's from a company called Digital Globe. Digital Globe provides completely automated data collection and processing for nearly any area in the world, without human intervention. That's their business model. Quite often it's the only high-res information available for a given area .The kind of errors in those data sets are not systematic and cannot be attributed to a projection system. An image with 10-2
    • One of these days, I'm going to go to Slashdot and see that Google has unvealed that all their services are now a WebOS.

      Perhaps. Or perhaps they'll venture into the PC market and make a plain OS. It's hard to say what Google will do; they tend to snap up ideas and companies and generate untilities with no clear plan, but something tells me there's more going on behind the scenes than they care to reveal. Don't be shocked when the explode full-blown into the OS market and back it up with WebOS version of

    • Not that I don't think a WebOS is interesting, I just think that the same giddy jump-to-conclusion is the same one that led a lot of search engines to become portals in the late 90s. Google succeeds largely by pushing the innovation to the edges, rather than centralizing everything. This creates more diversity in their product lines. The downside is that some of their products aren't that great (Froogle). Either way, all their products are largely freed from restrictions related to centralization.

      Even minor
    • To perform this, Google will need to step into hardware territory, much more than their search appliance. This seems outside of their current mission. I say this because GoogleOS would need to be hosted on a thin client that boots to their OS via a network partner. For my mind this seems a long way off for Google, who instead would rather offset the potential liabilities created by this situation to other actors. I had a discussion with my Comp Sci mentors about 3 years ago about the office suite being the
    • by Comboman (895500)
      This article is trying to get accross the point that Google is targeting MS Office but in my opinion I think that Google is targeting MS Windows and fleshing out their applications suites before they push for launching a user space or OS type web project. Perhaps all you'll need pretty soon to be productive is a machine with Linux installed & merely a good web browser?

      In the begining, all computers were huge mainframes that filled entire buildings. Only a few people (government, big business, universi

    • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:21AM (#15479620) Journal
      Perhaps all you'll need pretty soon to be productive is a machine with Linux installed & merely a good web browser?

      You're omitting something: broadband.

      There are a lot of people out there with computers and only crappy/no connections.

      However, it's worth pointing out (as I'm sure Google has recognized), the VALUE of the non-connected market, in terms of productivity software, is not so great. Maybe Google simply concedes this to MS?

      (FWIW I agree with your extrapolation.)
  • The online office & office application are different markets, if Google released a downloadable, installable competitor to office, they would be competing with OO.org & MS Office.

    This is expanding into a new market area before MS gets there (whatever did happen to office live anyway?)
    • It's not 1999 anymore. There are plenty of people that will be happy do ditch "expensive proprietary" MS Office for "free open" GoogleOffice. Broadband, the ubiquity of the laptop/handheld/cellphone means a changing market, ripe for Google or anyone with enough money and public eye to take the office crown.
      • I get what you're saying, but look at the money.

        [there is some crossover, but] All the people paying for office are businesses - they can't afford their office to be down (through network problems or google problems).

        For home users who want to knock up a quick spreadsheet, sure! But they weren't buying excel were they? They were copying their brother's office, using whatever free office suite came on their computer or whatever.

        This is not going to enroach on Office's current userbase, just stop MS expanding into the online office space.
        • All the people paying for office are businesses - they can't afford their office to be down (through network problems or google problems).

          And aside from this concern, they for sure can't affort to have business critical data stored on a server they have no control over.

          Even as a private user I would like to keep my data and have a local backup. While gmail is nice, I won't use it for sth. important or mission critical.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:33AM (#15479692) Journal
          For these users, there will be the corporate version. This will run on a network appliance, i.e. a dedicated piece of hardware that plugs into your network and runs this one app. It will be easy for the IT staff to back up, because everyone's data will be stored in the same place (no more users finding ways of storing data locally and then complaining that it's not backed up when they lose it). Upgrades will be easier, since you just have one machine to upgrade. Basically, you get to move to a thin-client approach one app at a time. Is this a good idea? Who knows.
        • [there is some crossover, but] All the people paying for office are businesses - they can't afford their office to be down (through network problems or google problems).

          Dunno where you work, but when the 'net connection at my job is down, no work gets done. This is usually because our connection to the internet is only as good as our intranet (which is to say, if I don't have connection to the 'net, I can't hit the fileserver, either). But also because if the 'net connection is down, email has stopped.

          May
    • by kneeslasher (878676) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:00AM (#15479036) Homepage
      For knocking up a quick spreadsheet (which is what 90% of home Excel users are doing), surely this is ideal and removes the need for (buying) Excel? For such simple uses, the online and offline markets are as one.

      Watch me slip towards giving Google all my information: as a personal example, I know it'd be handy for keeping a record of my yearly finances, for which full blown Excel is frankly overkill. I have to say, as a first application, they did well to pick a spreadsheet.

      Specifically, this would be a boon for OS X users since Apple's current offerings in iWork (Pages and Keynote), do not extend to a spreadsheet program.
      • Bad Example (Score:5, Interesting)

        by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:14AM (#15479116) Journal
        as a personal example, I know it'd be handy for keeping a record of my yearly finances, for which full blown Excel is frankly overkill.

        That is exactly why I want a full-blown Excel. Do you really want to do your finances online? Have a copy of that residing on google's server where it is stored or "cached"? They put out these services to aggregate your life, to advertize to you. You are there to make money, that's all they care about. Your privacy be damned.

        If you want to make that information public then by all means do. But programs like Excel and Quicken are there to keep finances private. That's a good thing.
        • Re:Bad Example (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Skythe (921438)

          That is exactly why I want a full-blown Excel. Do you really want to do your finances online? Have a copy of that residing on google's server where it is stored or "cached"? They put out these services to aggregate your life, to advertize to you. You are there to make money, that's all they care about. Your privacy be damned.

          Personally, i think your being far too paranoid here - reach for your tin foil hat, put it on, and take a few deep breaths.

          Considering the fact that google is an information technolo

    • Google is doing these just to annoy Microsoft and to keep them guessing. They're not really spending much money as it's probably just coming out of their employees' 20% time. If they get some more eyeballs, all the better. They can throw as many of these products to the wall as their employees can come up with. It doesn't hurt Google, it may in fact help them, and it annoys their competitors. It's a win-win for Google, and they're going to keep doing it. People don't even know how many products Google has.
    • by massysett (910130) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:34AM (#15479255) Homepage
      Agreed. I think people are making this into something it is not. Frequently people say "companies are not going to switch from Excel to some online Google spreadsheet." That is true; you're not going to see TD Ameritrade switching its staff over to Google spreadsheet, for a variety of reasons.

      But that is missing the point. The people at Google are not idiots and they understand that large enterprises, the bread and butter of MS Office, are not going to switch over to Google spreadsheet. They are going for a different market--one that MS has not served well. I think that market has two prongs: first, small businesses--I mean, three or four people--who do not have an IT department. They don't have full time geeks to manage computers, and they don't have sales reps paying them personal calls. These small businesses might see great value in what Google offers: a no-charge spreadsheet that doesn't need to be maintained. Compare that to Office, with its patches and high license fees. And it'll be easy for coworkers to collaborate too.

      Google is already going for this market with the Gmail for you domain feature. "But big companies aren't going to switch from Exchange for that," people said. True but, again, missing the point. Tiny businesses aren't running Exchange, but they still want professional-looking email addresses. Gmail for your domain does that, without the hassle or the full-time geeks.

      The other prong for Google spreadsheet is collaboration. Office does not do this very well. With Google spreadsheet it will be easy for people worldwide to work together on something, or for one person to access the same simple spreadsheet no matter what computer he is using.

      The press is conflict-hungry. Google v. MS, they like to say. But Google is not so stupid as to try to compete directly with MS Office. They are going for a whole new market here that MS has not served well: the small business.

    • They'll make their API public, and them someone at the Gnumeric or OO.o Calc team can quickly devellop a plugin to publish and open the files directly from the web. The KDE team can devellop a KIOSlave for filesystem transparecy, and Gnome folks can do the same for GnomeFS!
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:53AM (#15478992) Homepage Journal


    #______ A ______|
    1 | google
    2 | spreadsheet
    3 | ????
    4 | =sum(A1:A3)


    stupidslashdot page filler needed here. oh how I hate that.
  • The Real Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:55AM (#15478998) Journal
    Well, Web based spreadsheets are here. Nothing new, but what is new is the full faith and credit of Google brand behind it. What is the real strategy here? I dont think companies would trust a system that is constantly phoning home to manage their sensitive financial data. So MS's corporate clients would not switch to this. But one of the standard operating procedures for MS is to keep changing the file formats, macro language syntax etc continually to keep moving the "targets". Thus the competitors like OpenOffice are always at a disadvantage . Years of coding by the competitors get negated by simple format changes by MS. Forcing MS to support a constant file format is extremely important if anyone hopes to peel customers away from MS.

    I think the real strategy is to force MS to consider interop. If Google signs up lots vocal consumers who use Office97 file format for data exchange, then MS cant abandon that format that easily. That would keep OpenOffice etc viable.

    Fact is substantial portion of the profit of MS comes from Office. Substantial portion of their user base sticks to MS Office solely for compatibility with their business partners. When was the last time any one you saw a feature in MS Office that is a "must have" and "upgrade at any cost"? The 10 to 15% of the market share for FireFox is enough to force most of the webservers to change their coding practices to some standard rather than whatever MS is dishing out. Similarly 10 to 15% of the users using Office97 file formats routinely would be enough to force MS to keep supporting it till real alternatives develop.

    • I know this is probably naive, but couldn't the strategy just be to keep innovating? Instead of assuming they are "targeting" MS, couldn't it just be that they saw a product, and saw a better way to develop that product?

      Google isn't always AFTER MS. Heck, where they started, MS had barely even hinted at being. Most of their products are not direct competitors, but an alternative (and a nice one at that). Different philosophies on software - not direct competition.

      Or am I just being idealistic?
    • by Haeleth (414428) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:31AM (#15479232) Journal
      one of the standard operating procedures for MS is to keep changing the file formats, macro language syntax etc continually to keep moving the "targets".

      BS.

      Microsoft does not break backwards compatibility on every release. The day Microsoft breaks backwards-compatibility is the day millions of businesses decide not to upgrade. This is not what Microsoft wants. Which is why the next Office will continue to support the old binary file formats perfectly alongside the new XML formats.

      How well does it work in practice? Pretty damn well. Just this weekend I took a spreadsheet written and saved in Excel XP, opened it in Excel 97, wrote a complex macro, saved it again, emailed it back to the guy with Excel XP, and my macro worked perfectly for him first time. If Microsoft kept breaking the file format and macro language the way you claim, clearly that would not have been possible.

      Please, if you want to criticise Microsoft, pick on a criticism that's actually true, like their unfair business practices, their laughable security record, or (clutches at straws) their ugly GUI or something. But don't criticise their compatibility record -- because it's among the best in the industry. (Not that that's saying much.)
      • Microsoft does not break backwards compatibility on every release.
        Correct. The grandparent ought to have wrote: "Microsoft endeavors to break third party compatibility on every release."
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:24AM (#15479643) Homepage Journal
        Huh? What you're saying doesn't make any sense. Of course Microsoft's own products have backwards compatibility. But the point is that they continue to change the formats going forward, with every new release, and then do not publish any documentation on the formats.

        So if I build a product that I want to interoperate with Excel, and it uses the 1997 format, I'm okay for a while. But in the next release of Excel, by default it's going to produce documents that my application cannot read. Every time somebody sends me one, I'm going to have to reply back and ask them to do a "Save As" and give it to me in Excel-97 instead of Excel-xx, where xx is this year's flavor. In short, it's not backwards compatibility of Microsoft products that's in question at all, it's the "forwards compatibility" of other products which have to be compatible with MS' latest offerings in order to remain competitive, because of its dominance in the market.

        Thus anyone who wants to make a seamlessly interoperable product has to expend a ridiculous amount of energy and manpower, constantly reverse-engineering Microsoft's latest formats. The work required to change the format is asymmetrical: on Microsoft's end (where they have all the specifications) it's quite simple, but on the receiving end it's quite difficult.

        So what the GP was saying, I think, is that by creating a large installed base of users who can only read Excel-97, it might give Microsoft some impetus to not change the default format every time the mood hits them.
    • So MS's corporate clients would not switch to this
      *None* of the google products is targeting businesses. They go for the big audience.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      For me the "real" strategy goes a bit more in this line: Google specializes in searching, and is pretty much the top there (at least combining criterias). But the problem is that not all info is in internet, nor not all info in internet have meaning. If people move the info to internet (because there they have it more integrated, shareable at the point they choose, maybe more consolidated, etc) and give more meanings to it, the better will be, both for google and for the user.

      Think in the conceptual chang

  • by GundamFan (848341) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:56AM (#15479007)
    I assume that once you share (or simply upload) a spreadsheet you will see targeted adds based on it's content.

    Adds for stuff like financial planing, calculators, MS Office and of course WoW gold.
    • I assume that once you share (or simply upload) a spreadsheet you will see targeted adds based on it's content.
      I can't figure out whether that was a bad pun of the "sheer genius" variety, or just bad grammar.
  • Writely? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tester (591) <olivier.crete@NOSPam.ocrete.ca> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:59AM (#15479025) Homepage
    Is it something that was developped by Writely that Google bought or was it developped independently by Google? Any Googler here can disclose that?
    • Re:Writely? (Score:3, Informative)

      by harshaw (3140)
      this was developed from a product that Google bought in either 2004 or early 05. I think if you check the press release archives you might find something.
  • Sounds pretty neat. I'd really like to see how well it lets you play with others -- if it works well it could be one heck of a collaboration tool. Go go gadget google-spreadsheet!
    • by rizzle (848961) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:09AM (#15479554)
      I really can't tell you guys how much I wish this existed a year ago. Planning my wedding was a nightmare when it came to having to send excel files back and forth between my wife, mother-in-law, and I. It wasn't just the fact you had to e-mail it; it's that the world doesn't work like CVS does. Doing a "merge" means looking through the rows trying to find what was added/removed. There's no such thing as "checkout." So I, for one, am happy that we're headed in this direction.
  • ODF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:01AM (#15479041)
    So, when is it going to support OpenDocument?
  • MS Works? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:02AM (#15479042)
    "Microsoft plans a new release this year and is trying to get Office into more consumers' hands at a cheaper price while persuading businesses to buy higher-priced versions."

    Granted it's a complete and total POS, but isn't that what MS Works is supposed to be doing already?
  • by hnile_jablko (862946) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:03AM (#15479052)
    'Google further invades its rival's territory'.
    Let's play rules in the wild..... I will be impressed when someone from Google dares creep onto MS property and take a piss on the front door just when everyone is leaving for lunch. For me, that will be when the dynamics get interesting.
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:03AM (#15479054) Homepage
    Looks to be a bit visually snazzier than wikicalc [softwaregarden.com], a wiki/spreadsheet combo idea from Dan Bricklin. I first read about his project last autumn. I wonder if he was involved in this at all, or if the Google guys were inspired by his project or if there's absosmurfly no relation at all?
  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimktrains (838227) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:04AM (#15479057) Homepage
    I never thought that you could make so much $$ off advertising....

    Anyway, I personaly think that a word processor would be more useful, but this is a good start on it. I can't wait to try it out, google has always been very good at releaseing good products, and that is why I like them. I'v learned a lot trying to imitate some of the things they do (to incorp ideas, such as the rich text box into my website, I know they existed before, but all I saw were buggy ones until gmail....)
  • by alecto (42429) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:05AM (#15479065) Homepage
    Why would anyone store their documents on any outside corporation's server, much less one with a demonstrated committment and ability to mine those documents?
    • by GweeDo (127172) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:28AM (#15479208) Homepage
      Because not all my spreadsheets belong to the company I work for? I have plenty that are personal. Some that track Children's Church attendence, some that track my weight loss...stuff like that. I would much prefer to use some online spreadsheet then launch OO.org each time I want to edit those. Will this replace Excel at work? Nope, atleast not yet ;)
    • Why would anybody use a program for which they have no idea what it does? For all you know, MS Office is set up to encrypt everybodies documents at midnight January 1st 2010 and require an upgrade to the latest version to get them back.

      Oh, wait ... that'd be immoral, probably be illegal and it'd destroy the MS Office business entirely. So I suspect they won't do that ....

    • You might just as well ask: Why would anyone store their email on any outside corporation's server, much less one with a demonstrated committment and ability to mine those documents?

      Answer: Because they find it convenient to do so. Hence the immense success of hotmail, yahoo, gmail. . .

    • Why would anyone store their documents on any outside corporation's server, much less one with a demonstrated committment and ability to mine those documents?

      If you're so worried about Google mining or selling your private information, here's a simple, easy, and 100% effective solution: don't put your private information online. Geez, it's not that hard of a concept to grasp.

      From what I can tell, they're pushing the online spreadsheets as a way to deliberately share them with other people. Nowhere (that I c
  • Flight sim? (Score:5, Funny)

    by treerex (743007) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:08AM (#15479084) Homepage
    So I wonder if Google inserted the obligatory flight simulator easter egg?

  • by itsthebin (725864) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:10AM (#15479097) Homepage
    rolls out to the developing world , they will be a perfect thin client for these applications.
    • by ednopantz (467288) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:35AM (#15479267)
      >rolls out to the developing world , they will be a perfect thin client for these applications.

      Sure, for all those rural Africans using broadband.
    • Yep, I think there's more to this than the myopic view of the American market. As a greater share of the world comes online, this will basically commoditize MicroSoft's software and shove it into a niche market. A very large percentage of average users would appreciate an easy, free spreadsheet they can access from anywhere and share with anyone else, including schools and nascent community internet centers in developing parts of the world. Maybe Google is really thinking globally and long-term. In 5 ye
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:16AM (#15479127) Homepage
    Yes, Google, keep over-extending yourself as a company. Microsoft has a similar problem, but they are working hard to get this resolved. They jumped into a number of markets without any clear plan on how to make money. Google is doing precisely the same thing that Microsoft did, but they're a smaller company. If they keep this up, Microsoft may just have to sit back and wait for them to become so saturated with non-monetized services that they don't have the resources to invest in their core businesses.
    • by kebes (861706) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:11AM (#15479560) Journal
      You make a valid point. However I think that Google is doing this the "smart way." Instead of jumping into new markets and expecting to dominate it immediately, they are releasing a large number of small of tests and seeing what works. Those that really work (GMail, Google Maps/Google Local) they put more effort into, and start getting a serious return on investment (the ad revenue from GMail must now be quite significant). Those that don't work so well can be allowed to fizzle away.

      The point is that Google is moving slowly, incrementally, and always testing the waters with each new product (hence their perpetual beta status). This is the right way to do it, since they don't over-comit to any particular project. They always have their bread-and-butter operation (web search ads) to keep them running, so whenever one of these new ideas takes off, it simply increases their earnings.

      Some people think that one day Google will unveil a super-duper WebOS or GoogleOS or something. Instead I think it will be a slow process, where more and more functionality will be included in the "online google suite." I don't think they will ever fully dominate... nor should that be their goal. They can make alot of money by providing a useful set of services. This set of services need not be complete for it to be profitable.
  • by MOBE2001 (263700) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:16AM (#15479130) Homepage Journal
    Throw your OS away. The only application you need is a dedicated browser (Google will provide one soon) and an internet connection to Google. No hard drives are necessary.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:21AM (#15479160)
    And this is how Google gets all the inside financial information on thousands of companies out there. Simply brilliant!
  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:23AM (#15479169) Homepage Journal
    While you are waiting for the invitations to Google Spreadsheet, why not try out some existing ones?

    EditGrid [editgrid.com] has been out there for two months, and has cool features such as gnumeric import support (we actually use the core library of Gnumeric as our backend, and therefore support all functions that gnumeric supports), and additional stuff like automatic updated stock price data [editgrid.com] in a spreadsheet.

    [ Disclaimer: I am currently working as a developer of EditGrid [editgrid.com], see my "homepage" URL ]
  • You can share spreadsheets with other users and can chat while you're editing - multiplayer spreadsheets!

    Yeah, sure, it sounds good in theory, but just wait until you're editing a spreadsheet and the person you're editing with uses a border-hack to edit your cell from an adjacent one. Cheater scum.
  • If they name it Google Spread, it should generate a lot of traffic from those looking for a good porn search service. :)
  • Yea this is cool and I can hardly wait to play with it but it isn't the killer application I keep expecting from Google. Then again the killer on line app really doesn't target Microsoft so maybe it doesn't interest them.
  • Microsoft plans a new release this year and is trying to get Office into more consumers' hands at a cheaper price while persuading businesses to buy higher-priced versions."

    Working as a tech coordinator in Minnesota, we can buy Office Pro 2003 licenses for $50 each. I don't know how much businesses can purchase licenses for, so I can't compare that, but the retail Office Pro 2003 runs for $449 for the full version. But Microsoft isn't just targeting schools.

    Any family that, well, basically has a kid in sc
  • Basic use, really (Score:5, Informative)

    by AndyElf (23331) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:34AM (#15479257) Homepage
    Looking at preview picks, it would seem to be fitting for an average basic user, not for anything fancy. It can't do filters. It won't do subtotals. It does not do PivotTables. Not sure whether you can do extensive (if any) {HV}LOOKUP()s.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:40AM (#15479309) Homepage Journal
    Look at MS Works - its spreadsheet will handle 85% of common usage. And then they turn around and make the file format incompatible with Excel just so that if you use Excel somewhere else like work or school you're forced to use it in place of Works as well. It's a shill. But functionally Works spreadsheet is entirely suitable for most applications. Google can fill this niche and if they allow you to archive and manage multiple versions then it would be fine.
  • Unfortunately.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Momoru (837801) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:11AM (#15479561) Homepage Journal
    It does not do one of the things software needs to do, that is solve a need. Most casual users are not sharing spreadsheets with each other (and if they are, its usually filled with macros). Business are the main users of spreadsheets, and I don't see how this makes their lives any easier then saving an Excel sheet on the network. Just because they build it, doesn't mean people will come. And whatever happened to Google's creed of sticking to search? I'd much rather them spend their time and money improving their search and solving click fraud then trying to spook MS.
  • by clokwise (844691) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:29AM (#15479672) Homepage
    I got my referral code and have been testing it for the past half hour. Creating spreadsheets from scratch is painless and it has a full selection of functions to satisfy the average number cruncher. I tried importing a few of my Excel sheets and had mixed success. Seems like anything other than my basic '=A1*F5' type formulas were discarded. It failed to open a fairly large but not complex spreadsheet, and had one occaision where something I did caused the Firefox web browser to just lock up completely and I had to kill the process. I like how you can share spreadsheets, much like sharing Google Calendars. Ok, it's beta, I suppose I shouldn't be so critical, but what isn't these days?
  • by jZnat (793348) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:38AM (#15479737) Homepage Journal
    With the not-so-recent ISO/IEC standardisation of OpenDocument Format, where's the support for .ods (OpenDocument Spreadsheet) files? Or support for .xlsx (OpenXML Spreadsheet) even? If you can include support for a binary and proprietary format such as Excel's, why not include support for the standard (OpenDocument) or even the bloated may-become-a-useful-standard (OpenXML)? They're both based on XML (which I'm sure the developers at Google are quite efficient with), and they both use simple and established compression formats (ODF uses a .zip file compatible with PKZIP and Java's jar, don't know what OpenXML uses). Even MS Excel supports several different spreadsheet formats; what kind of spreadsheet application can succeed without at least half-way decent support for legacy formats?

    Of course, CSV is much simpler than any XML format, but for that exact same reason, you can only store static data in a CSV (unless your static data happens to be formulae that can be executed by your spreadsheet program).
  • by wsgeek (633907) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @12:42PM (#15480801)
    I've seen a lot of well thought-out comments on how this development will not displace Office in the enterprise mainly for these reasons:
    1. Reliability of access (networking outages compromise this)
    2. Privacy of data

    What would prevent Google from licensing this application to businesses as something that can be run on local web-servers? Just because it runs in a web browser (aka VT240 terminal for those who think history is repeating itself) does not mean that it must run on a public network.

    I think Google's plan is brilliant and that they will be making some serious inroads into groupware in the future... They already have pieces of the technology in place (mail/messaging, spreadsheet, search, and soon I am sure some type of word processor). They will not create their own browser -- why do this when you can leverage the ones already out there and simly create toolbars and plugins? Google has always been about choice and they will not change that aspect of their business plan.

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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