Google, Microsoft And the Spreadsheet

Posted on June 5, 2006

Google and Microsoft announced that they have teamed up to make entering spreadsheets a web-based application.
Google Inc. is going back to the future by reinventing the spreadsheet as a Web-based application, seeking a simpler on-ramp for consumers to input data into databases, the company said on Monday.

The Web search leader will begin a limited trial on Tuesday of the classic software application defined by its grid of rows and columns and simple calculating capabilities that allow users to enter and organize information in structured form.

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Google Spreadsheet relies on technology the company acquired from a small Wall Street software developer it bought last year called 2Web Technologies, which in 2004 introduced tools to convert Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into Web services. "What is missing is the ability to share data more easily," Rochelle said. Users can sort data and take advantage of 200 functions and common spreadsheet formulas for doing basic calculations of numerical data. Google is working on improving printing, charts, filtering and "drag and drop" features, he said.

Rochelle said his company would be studying how much demand there is for Google Spreadsheet to work with Google Base, an online database service that allows Google users to post various types of information online. "Databases in themselves are really hard to program," said Charlene Li, an Internet analyst with Forrester Research. "What people use spreadsheets for is low-end databases," she said. Google Base is viewed by analysts as a stepping stone into the classified advertising or e-commerce markets, by helping users feature relevant information on Google's main search index, the Froogle shopping site and Google Local search.
It's so easy. You just enter all your personal medical, tax and financial information into an Excel spreadsheet and upload it to the Web. What could possibly go wrong?