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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Google launches web spreadsheet
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Google says its project will help users to share information
Internet search engine Google has released a web-based spreadsheet application, on a limited test basis.

Spreadsheets are software applications with a grid of rows and columns and calculating capabilities, which allow users to input or organise information.

California-based Google said its free, web-based application can be shared by up to ten users simultaneously.

The dominant stand-alone spreadsheet is Excel from Microsoft, and Google's move could put the two on collision course.

Small groups targeted

"Many people already organise information into spreadsheets," said Jonathan Rochelle, product manager for Google Spreadsheets, as the trial product is known.

"Where they are struggling is to share it."

The Google spreadsheet is initially targeted at small work teams in social life or small business, not big enterprises, he said.

Google said the program is designed to help people organise their own information and make it more easily accessible to others through the web.

Data in the spreadsheets are saved automatically with each user action over the web onto Google computer servers.

Google recently bought Writely, an online word-processing application that also allows users to collaborate online.

Taken together with its web-based e-mail programme, its recently launched online calendar and the "Google desktop" search tool, the company is increasingly straying into Microsoft territory.

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