Google to Test Web-Based Spreadsheet

Google plans to release a Web-based spreadsheet application Tuesday, which, when combined with its recent purchase of online word processor Writely, seems to indicate the company is about to mount a challenge to Microsoft's Office productivity suite.

However, Google is playing down the idea that the new beta project -- first reported by the Wall Street Journal -- is somehow a threat to Office's dominance, saying the two applications would be "complementary."

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The Web based spreadsheet will not require any application to be installed on the user's computer, and documents created would be saved on Google's servers. Thus, a user could access the document from any computer with a Web browser. Up to 50 spreadsheets could be saved at one time, Google says.

Additionally, the application would allow multiple people to edit the spreadsheet simultaneously. All users would see changes as they were made, with an area available to chat if needed.

When saving, the user would have the option of either saving to an Excel-compatible or comma separated value (CSV) file. While the initial beta release is said to be quite rudimentary and only a few select users would gain access initially, Google will both refine the product and invite more testers in the coming months.

Google Spreadsheet will be accessible through Google Labs.

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