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by Mike Zazaian October 11, 2006 - 1:28pm, 2 Comments

Google Overhauls Online Office Apps

Google unveiled its new Google Docs and Spreadsheets this morning, a free online office suite that unifies word processing with spreadsheets.

‘Docs and Spreadsheets’ is an extension of Google’s former ‘Writerly’ software, a basic online word processing program that Google purchased last year. The new ‘Docs and Spreadsheets’ interface updates the old Writerly interface and adds the functionality of is own Google Spreadsheets app within the same work space. Google team member Jen Mazzon, who contributed to ‘Docs and Spreadseets’, commented on the project:

We’ve completely re-jiggered Writely and Google Spreadsheets so they’re more identical than fraternal, and unified the two with one login, one help center and a joint list that shows all your documents and spreadsheets online.

Like all of Google’s ventures ‘Docs and Spreadsheets’ takes a simplistic approach to the online office suite. Rather than bloating the software with a slew of features that are rarely accessed by users, Google’s new office app features only the essentials of what users are found to most commonly use. Said Jonathan Rochelle, Google Docs & Spreadsheets product manager:

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

‘Docs and Spreadsheets’ offers stout competition to opposing online office suites such as Zoho. And while not as robust as some of its competitors, Google’s solution will have a leg up simply by being offered under the Google umbrella.

Citing the success of Zoho and Google’s former Writerly, Microsoft has considered bringing a version of its low-end office software Microsoft Works to the web. The project hasn’t been greenlit yet, however, as Microsoft believes publishing a free, online version of Works may eat into the profits of its full-featured Microsoft Office Suite, which raked in $44 billion for the company last year. But whether Microsoft decides to get in the online game or not, this new waves of online applications like Zoho and Google Docs that will move the market in the free, online direction. Microsoft might as well get on board before the online office market is completely dominated by competitors.

[via cnet]