Posted by: Charles Maitland | Wednesday 11 October, 2006

Updated Google Spreadsheets

I saw on the BBC News site that Google have re-launced their online spreadsheet "in yet another challenge to archrival Microsoft."

Well as I have a few mins spare this morning I decided to give the re-launched product a look.V1.1.6b (I passed on it the first time around)

According to Google the main re-launch seems to be:

  • Having a unified entry point with Writely
  • Multiple Lines in a Cell
  • Public sharing
  • Printing ability
  • Cell borders
  • The ability to insert columns, rows and sheets

Having had a play for half an hour my conclusion is that its ok if you are doing lists and simple small spreadsheets or if concurrent collaboration is a big requirement. If you need to do more or the collaboration features are not a must then I dont see any reason to use this as opposed to Excel or any of the other free spreadsheets available.

Update: Robert Scoble asks if Microsoft have heard Google starting their engine. I would say that yes they have – they have a better already developed in Excel Services and are establishing the Office Live brand. Where they are doing better than Google is thinking about who their audience really is and working it through. They are looking at the placement of spreadsheets in a company, interacting with other back office systems like CRM, distribution within a company structure and so on. I would suppose that 90% of spreadsheet users are within a business environment and to work in that environment you need a much bigger proposition that the one being put forward by Google.

I would say that Microsoft have heard the Google engine but it is in the distance because it is racing in a different race.

Its a business and market issue and not a technology issue.



  1. Charlie: I agree with you if you look at the world the way you did. I usually look at it that way too. But, then I look at my own team’s computer use. I gotta tell you. There’s less and less Microsoft stuff being used here. Why? Collaboration. I have employees strung out all over the Bay Area (and a new one who lives in Chicago).

    I need the collaborative things that Google brings. And, sorry, I know all about Exchange servers and other servers that Microsoft is offering: they are too expensive and don’t do as good a job as Google is doing already.

    And Google keeps getting better.

    If Microsoft is writing them off the way you did, that’ll be making a huge mistake.

  2. I think the different perspective is the key here. I see over 1 million people traveling into London each day to work in their office enviroment. The death of such enviroments has been long predicted but each year the numbers go up.
    I think Robert’s commebt highlights one (of many) differences in approach. Google do stuff because it suits them and they like it – Microsoft start at the other end (usually) with what works the way our customer wants to work.
    It is my contention that if there is a customer (particularly a paying one) demand then Microsoft have the Technology and the brand push in place (see recent announcements) to slog Google out of the ground. Google products suit Robert’s company’s situation but such a company is still very far out at the edge of the normal distribution curve.

  3. Hi,

    I think you should consider the Google Spreadsheets as deeper step into enterprise related business.

    I you think of a kind of Google appliance which brings up search and other software-tools “as a service” this could be a pretty good extension for other software vendors like SAP, Oracle, etc.

    Ever thought of a spreadsheet-orientated SAP BW service based on the Google things for controllers for example?


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