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Google Retools for the Battle With Microsoft

Google (GOOG - Get Report) may be beefing up its already considerable suite of free online applications in a move that might ultimately target Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report).

The search giant already offers a hosted word processor and spreadsheet that resemble Microsoft's hallmark Word and Excel programs. But Google now seems to be developing a presentation program that would provide a function similar to Microsoft's PowerPoint, according to the popular tech blog TechCrunch.

Reports of the PowerPoint clone first began to spread after bloggers found a reference to the product in Google programming code, which has since been cleaned up.

Although Google's fledgling suite of word processing and number-crunching applications isn't yet a big moneymaker, it has the potential to change the competitive landscape for Google and its rivals down the road.

That's because Google's suite of products has many of the makings of a "disruptive technology," a term originally made famous by Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen, who used it to describe the initially crude types of technology that often unexpectedly end up sweeping a market.

Google's suite of applications offers a simpler, more limited set of features than Microsoft's market-leading products. But the functionality that Google's applications offer covers the most-frequently used types of operations -- and ones that are sufficient for a good chunk of users. Moreover, they also have certain advantages over Microsoft's products.
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