Google Spreadsheets, as the product is called, will be available on a test basis, according to a representative for the search company who added that the program is in "alpha," which generally means it is a fairly early version and will be available to a limited number of users on a first-come, first-served basis.
Google purchased Writely, a company that offers a Web-based word processor, in addition to a Web-based calendaring application, earlier this year.
None of the programs offers anything like the capabilities of Microsoft's Office, but the programs are free and are seen as the beginning of a trend away from the desktop-based applications dominated by Microsoft for more than a decade.Google's new application is designed for users who create basic spreadsheets that need to be shared or updated by several contributors, the company said. Unlike conventional spreadsheets which store data on the user's computer or on a corporate network, Google Spreadsheets stores data on a Google server accessible via the Internet. Google Spreadsheets will be available to a limited number of users on the Google Labs page at labs.google.com. Shares of Google close the regular session up $1.01 to $375.45; Microsoft shares closed up 4 cents to $22.54.