Google's Spreadsheet

Google's Spreadsheet

Sometimes I get the notion that everytime someone sneezes at Google, the snot shows up in 50 blogs the next day. Everyone seems to love imagining Google as the underdog in a boxing match with Microsoft, and Microsoft even seems to like playing into the role. At any rate, everyone is talking about Google's New Spreadsheet, though the reactions are somewhat mixed. What's really exciting about the project for me are the collaboration features, which would make designing things like this Game System Matrix a heckuva lot easier. I've also been using Google's web word processor, Writely, for several months and find it more than adequate for the task, and of course Gmail is my preferred mail client. I've been growing more and more tempted to ditch my Thunderbird and just use Gmail exclusively.

Is Google aiming to eventually produce an "online office" with all the functionality of a Microsoft Office or Open Office suite?



Terry Hancock's picture

As far as I know, yes, Google's online applications are proprietary. There may be exceptions, but certainly Writely is non-free.

For myself, that's enough reason not to use them. Talk about lock-in: not only can you not switch word processors at will, you can't even hang onto your old one, because you never had a copy! That's "software as a service" for you. I'd rather use one of the several free applications that can do the same things (including provide web interfaces for remote users).

Terry Hancock's picture

This appears to have sprung up during the month of June:

Simple Spreadsheet 0.3

I haven't tried it (I'm not a big spreadsheet user anyway, and when I do, I use Kspread). But of course, for groupware, a web-based spreadsheet would be more convenient.

I think I'd use the Free one, if anything.

Of course, the downside is that you have to handle the hosting yourself. Then again, that could be more of a plus than trusting everything to Google. Excessive dependence on a single supplier always makes me nervous, no matter how much I like them.

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Matt Barton's picture


Matt Barton is an English professor at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He is an advocate of free software, wikis, and the Creative Commons. He also studies and writes about videogames and computing history. Matt also has blogs at Armchair Arcade, Gameology, and Kairosnews.