Search engine giant Google is set to take on Microsoft’s dominant Excel spreadsheet with its own free, web-based application.
The spreadsheet move is part of Google’s strategy of offering an increased range of hosted desktop productivity tools, to encourage greater use of its web portal brand. It follows Google’s foray into online word processing, with its acquisition of Writely in March.
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The Google Spreadsheet will allow up to 10 users to simultaneously view and edit data. Changes made by each user are transmitted over the internet and saved onto Google’s servers.
It uses technology acquired when Google bought 2Web Technologies last year. The small software developer had already built tools that could convert Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into web-based documents.
Google’s new spreadsheet will be able to import and export using Excel's .xls format or the open .csv (comma-separated values) format.
It is being made available to a limited number of initial users via Google Labs, the company’s testing ground for new developments.