Google Spreadsheets complements Excel?

Google Spreadsheets complements Excel?

Summary: Many are commenting on Google Spreadsheets versus Excel...or even OpenOffice Calc.

TOPICS: Google

Many are commenting on Google Spreadsheets versus Excel...or even OpenOffice Calc. What you have are two extremes of spreadsheet usage, from simple and sharable to richer, more powerful and complex. Excel is not seriously threatened in this scenario--it's all the other Web-based spreadsheets.

 Google Spreadsheets and Excel

   See Image Gallery: Google Spreadsheets in action

Nick Carr offers his assessment of Google's evolving Office plan. He posits that Spreadsheets makes Excel more valuable because is provides a simple Web interface to Microsoft's Office spreadsheet--it reads and writes Excel's format. Google is building a new layer of functionality on top of Office, he said.  "Google Spreadsheets competes with a Microsoft product, it competes with a Microsoft product that doesn't yet exist: Excel Live, Microsoft's own web interface for Excel data," he adds.

Nick concludes:

"Google's fighting a new war, a war that's barely begun. It's the war for web services. And it knows that, for the foreseeable future, these services will not displace desktop applications but extend them. Google is happy to make Excel more valuable as long as it also encourages greater use of the Internet and, in particular, attracts more traffic to its own sites. In a way, Spreadsheets is not only an Excel complement; it also turns Excel into a complement to Google's own services and the lucrative ads that those services carry."

But, Google Spreadsheets is both complement and a competitor, nipping at Microsoft's ankles, as I wrote yesterday. The battleground has simply shifted, as Nick says, to Web-based applications.

Richard MacManus concurs:

Microsoft knows full well that office apps are gradually changing from shrink-wrapped software to web-based services, so I expect it to act quickly to Google's spreadsheet (and of course Writely, which Google acquired in March). All this demonstrates once again that the Web is the new platform, on which the big software companies are battling for dominance. 

Rafe Needleman focuses on Google Spreadsheet's sharing model:

However, as a tool for collaboration, Google Spreadsheets is going to walk all over Excel. Google will have a built-in chat client and allow simultaneous editing of a sheet. This will allow two (or more) people to put their heads together on numbers even if they are not sitting next to each other. Also, since Google Spreadsheets will save your work on its own servers, you won't have to worry about sending your file around to other people -- any authorized user will be able to pull it up online. The online storage may dissuade people who want to use the product to work on sensitive financial data, though. 

Philipp Lenssen has video, screens shots and first impressions on his blog:

Google Spreadsheet usability is quite good. As ever so often, this is a Google product with no ads so far (ads might be on the horizon, of course); it’s more a tool than a site, clearly fitting into the growing array of Google OS products. The only thing I really missed so far was right-clicking rows to apply formatting changes or to copy & paste text. (It’s not trivial working around the default browser context menu, which in certain contexts can’t be replaced at all by a web page.) That, and the ability to create graphs from your data (and the help file also needs to be completed yet). But that’s the good thing about web apps; they can be constantly updated by the developers in the background without any of us ever having to install a new version. 

Topic: Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • One interesting point, they do NOT yet support ODF. I imagine that is

    comming, but looks like they chose to get to market as quickly as possible supporting the most used format. They are very interested in getting Excel users to try their online version. Interesting . . .
    • welcome to perpetual beta

      The model that was introduced with Gmail, and has been carried forward by google with almost every product they have...

      As well, I use openOffice, but I hate using ODF, since most of the people I work with use MS, and I don't want to be bothering with multiple versions...

      ODF will probably show up along the way somewhere, but google made the smart move by getting into the field first, with a working product... after all, their perpetual beta product model simplifies everything.
  • Gaga over Google?

    I hope those who are going gaga over Google's latest software will step back a bit and realize what supporting it will mean.

    It's cool. It looks cool, and it it pretty damn slick. But...

    1) No way you are going to put sensitve financial data on a third-party server that's probably being hosted and supported in some third-world country.

    2) This is the thin edge of the wedge to get people used to using web services before we get hooked for monthly fees, etc. Imagine if Ford held a news conference tomorrow and said "OK, we are no longer selling cars. We are only going to rent them by the mile!" That's where this is going because other than program patches, there is absolutely no advantage to running a spreadsheet on a website.

    Even collaboration is dubious because if you really have a problem with 10 team members tripping over themselves, the assignment wasn't broken down correctly in the first place.
    • Yes, the Google Office appliance is comming for just the reasons you

      mention. It will be similar to the Google search appliance where people do not want their search indexes stored online.

      But, remember, if you want to share your spreadsheets, documents, etc, with partners, clients, suppliers, it has to be online somewhere, and eventually, Google will be able to do it cheaper, better, and safer than if you hired people to do it in-house.
    • practicality

      in your example, ford's decision would instantly kill ford...

      Google would want to be able to allow you to safely interact with your data on your computer, without it going off your computer, since that would be what people want... and if they made it so that all your data had to go to one of their servers, someone else would make a similar product that didn't, and that product would take control where that aspect matters.

      And of course people with sensitive data aren't going to put that on 3rd party servers, since that kind of data should never leave a company's secured intranet... if google wants to get into the secure data work, they'd need to create a product for intranets, which would make it act like the normal version, but be entirely contained in the intranet.

      Google also knows that the free-usage model is the way to get people into it... Gmail has always been free, and it has done very well because it is free.

      Google isn't going to make any stupid choices... they won't charge people, unless they make a corporate version. Ads work better in almost ever situation.
  • It gets really interesting...

    ...when they add something like TurboExcel to secure and hide parts of the spreadsheets, and also create the killer app for Web services.
  • Big Whoop - More Ga-Ga over Google

    If Google farts these days it makes the news. So they came up with a rudimentary web based spreadsheet... so? Is this the best Google can offer with all their billions and super smart talent pool. I'm still waiting for Google to produce something useful, something new, something different, something I will actually use.
  • Took a look at it, it's a toy.

    Or a very limited tool for the open source (we refuse to buy anything) crowd.
    • Message has been deleted.

      Reverend MacFellow
    • The toy that will grow up

      I agree that right now Google Spreadsheets do not have the same power as Excel.....yet. This is a first release. You can expect Google to keep adding on to it. We have to view this as version 1. I would guess that Google's team working on this is already working on a version 2 that adds more features (and possible macro programming). This is just a start....
  • Tried it once - Lost my data

    I got an account on this system to give it a try. Not bad within the limitations of the browser environment.

    Got several entries in before I tried to save, then Whoops! I got a server error and it refused to save any of my work. No way to "Save as" to the local machine (not that I could see anyway). So I lost everything.

    Granted its a Beta, but this did not give a good impression. Any web-based ap is vulnerable to faults, not only on the server but on any part of the Internet connection, which makes me very nervous about putting any significant amount of work on the site. Doesn't seem to be any auto-save, though again I could have missed it.

    Persistent applications sessions are a very different beast to one-off search transactions or even email services.
  • Spreadsheet Useful

    I think you may be expecting a little too much at this point. I have both Writely and Google Spreadsheets - and I love them for a definite purpose. I have MS Office at home. But if I have documents that are in the works, or I think there is a possiblilty I might want to share I upload them to the appropriate Google app and can work on them anywhere I can get to a PC. Then I don't have to move files to a portable and lug it with me.

    Also I can use it for a simple thought-tank type item. either spreadsheet or Word type document, save it and then download it with ease to my computer when I get home for the polishing.

    I don't expect a full-featured web-based application for free that I can use alone at this point. Be realistic!
  • RE: Google Spreadsheets complements Excel?

    Compliment, NO. Google Docs tries to be MS Excel (entire MS Office actually) but that just isn't happening.