Google Docs Takes Over For Writely

    October 11, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

By combining the Writely online word processor and the Spreadsheets service into a single sign-on product, Google has moved ever closer to fulfilling the expectation they will someday place an online competitor to Microsoft Office online.

Google Docs Takes Over For Writely
Google’s Online Office Suite Takes Shape

For now, it looks like Google has one part of the Microsoft development process copied: they have managed to come up with lengthy, boring names for products. When visiting, the visitor reaches Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Not quite as exciting as Google Office, is it? In fairness it is too soon to call a two-function service an office suite, but perhaps for a lot of people having word processing and an effective spreadsheet creator on hand from wherever they may be (with an Internet connection), that would be enough.

Users of Writely who sign in to the new service with a Google Account will have the option to move documents saved under an old Writely login to that account. Once moved, they can’t be moved back. Considering that a Google Docs & Spreadsheets user may have other services in place with Google already, like Gmail, that probably does not present a problem.

I was able to move three old documents over without difficulty, and they remained intact. One irritating little issue is still present – a single space between paragraphs in Writely/Google Docs still becomes a double space when copying and pasting parts of a document into other applications, including Notepad.

Both the Docs and Spreadsheets retain the features that already existed. Those include collaboration features for multiple users to share and edit files created with either product. Users can upload several file formats to the word processor: Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or text. They can be downloaded in several formats from the service, including PDF.

If Google truly has aspirations to challenge Microsoft, ZDNet’s Google blogger Garett Rogers thinks Google needs to make an investment in customer support:

I’ve said this many times before, but Google needs to spend some of their money on technical support if they intend to infiltrate the enterprise. Without 24/7 access to someone who can help, or at least tell you what is happening when something goes wrong, Google cannot be trusted enough to gain any market share.

Another trust issue could be document storage. Anything created in the newly combined product would be stored at Google. While Google does well in protecting information, they are not invulnerable to missing a bug here or there that could reveal a document.

A little prudent sensibility goes a long way in this case. The Washington Post probably won’t care in someone’s family reunion plans accidentally become revealed, but if the family happens to be named Bush or Cheney, reporters would take an interest.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.