Google Spreading Out A Spreadsheet

    June 5, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

June 6th will see the limited beta preview of Google’s online spreadsheet program made available from the company’s Google Labs development section.

An AP report noted the pending arrival of Google Spreadsheet, which will be a free alternative to Microsoft’s Excel program. As a web-based product, it would complement Google’s Writely online word processor acquisition to form another piece of a Google productivity suite.

Right now, Google offers an email service (Gmail), a calendar service (Google Calendar), and an index for storing information (Google Base). There isn’t a presentation software equivalent to PowerPoint yet, though Google Page Creator could host a HTML-based presentation in a pinch.

AP cited comments from Google Spreadsheet’s product manager, Jonathan Rochelle, on the upcoming release of the new service. He described the limited beta approach as one that gives the company time to sort out issues with the software, along with other details in the article:

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to begin accepting sign-ups for the spreadsheet at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday through the “labs” section of its website. Rochelle wouldn’t specify how many people will be granted access to the spreadsheet application.

Google’s spreadsheet isn’t as sophisticated as Excel. For instance, the Google spreadsheet won’t create charts or provide a menu of controls that can be summoned by clicking on a computer mouse’s right-hand button.

Rochelle said the program’s main goal is to make it easier for family, friends or co-workers to gain access to the same spreadsheet from different computers at different times, enabling a group of authorized users to add and edit data without having to e-mail attachments back and forth.

“We are totally focused on the sharing aspect,” he said.

Business 2.0 senior writer Om Malik speculated on his blog that Google acquired a company called iRows to provide the spreadsheet functionality. iRows was offline as of press time, which fueled more guessing as to its possible role in Google’s plans.

UPDATE!: Malik now writes that iRows is not part of Google, so that was a false alarm.

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