Offline Google Docs expected to launch

Blog reports suggest that the search giant is on the verge of releasing an offline-ready version of Google Docs, as part of Google Gears

Recent news from the blogosphere indicates that Google is preparing to launch one of its first offline-ready web applications in the form of Google Docs as part of Google Gears.

Speculation around the launch of such a service has been fuelled by the emergence of what appear to be screenshots of Google Docs.

After announcing the launch of Google Gears last May at its annual Developer Day, the company's Australian engineering director, Alan Noble, told ZDNet Australia in a video interview that he hoped the format would become a global standard.

"We have signed up companies such as Adobe to help make it a global standard and we are making it open source to encourage as many developers as possible to get behind the standard," said Noble.

As of 2008, the only official integration for Gears is Google Reader, although there are rumours of offline functionality for Google Calendar, along with a report on Google Blogoscoped claiming that Google Docs now has partial offline access.

A spokesperson from Google's US headquarters told ZDNet.co.uk sister site CNET News.com that the company is "working on enabling many of our applications to run on Google Gears, but we don't have anything more specific to share at this time".

With the announcement of Google Gears and IBM's release of Lotus Symphony last year, there was some speculation that the search giant and computing stalwart would form a loose, open-source coalition to compete with Microsoft on the productivity software front, but a number of analysts suggested that any such offerings would only result in a siphoning off of some of Microsoft's revenue.

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