August 21, 2006 11:32 AM PDT

Google welcomes Writely sign-ups

Five months after being bought by Google, the Writely online word-processing application is now open for anyone who wants to sign up and use it.

Writely has been closed to all but its existing members since its acquisition by search giant Google in March. But last Thursday, Google allowed anyone to join and make use of the hosted word-processing application.

Writely is a hosted word-processing package that enables users to edit and publish documents online. The package was created by Silicon Valley software development company Upstartle, which was started by software engineers Sam Schillace, Steve Newman and Claudia Carpenter.

The move follows speculation about whether Google intends to challenge Microsoft's Office productivity suite. Last October, Google's partnership with Sun Microsystems set off intense speculation that the companies would collaborate around OpenOffice.org to create a hosted-applications suite. But the two companies merely announced that they would work together on OpenOffice, Java, OpenSolaris and Google's Toolbar.

Despite owning Writely and also launching its own spreadsheet and calendaring offerings and its Gmail e-mail application, the search giant hasn't done much to integrate the disparate elements into anything approaching Office.

Google is not alone in having designs on the hosted office productivity market. Other players include AdventNet's Zoho, Silveroffice's Goffice, ThinkFree and Natium's Flysuite, which are all hoping to grab a chunk of the multibillion-dollar market currently dominated by Microsoft Office.

Speaking to ZDNet UK recently, the chief executive and founder of ThinkFree, T.J. Kang, claimed that the hosted players aren't interested in competing directly with Microsoft but in filling a niche the software giant is reluctant to move into.

"Google has shown that you can give away everything, but Microsoft can't do that--it is very hard to be your own agent of destructive change. They will drag their feet, and they will pay lip service to expanding their hosted model, but I don't think they will be aggressive or creative," Kang said.

Most of the hosted players are initially targeting their software at students and home users, but the rise of an online alternative to Microsoft Office could create even more security headaches for large businesses that want to keep confidential data within their firewall.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Writely, ThinkFree, word-processing, Google Inc., Microsoft Office

15 comments

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Google Opening Up Writely to The Public
I personally believe this is a good move by Google, writely is a brillant piece of software and i throughly recommend you to use it

Thanks
Josh Chandler
Posted by jchandler15 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why should I use this when I can just use OpenOffice?
I can simply download OpenOffice for free. So why should I use some online word processor?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well...
I work on documents for a week or so at a time. Being able to save them online will save me from having to upload/download them every day from an FTP or a USB drive. It's a little extra convenience, which goes a long way when you transfer something every day.

Besides, since this can save out to an Open Office file, what's to prevent you from using both? They're both free (at the moment).
Posted by mrorie (81 comments )
Link Flag
Great for project collaboration
Well today I had to send out a project task list and objectives document to several people (all in different parts of the country) for feedback and discussion. As I don't want 5 versions of this floating around, Writely gives me a great central place for storage, viewing, editing (with revision history) and even tells you if someone else is simulataniously editing it at the same time, it's just perfect for what I need.
Posted by xcgeek (14 comments )
Link Flag
Google Bamboozles Microsoft
"Google Office" is a strategic ploy to divert Microsoft resources into Office Live and away from search. I think Google may keep nudging its Office threat along, just enough to keep Microsoft worried. For more on this, see the AUgust 17 post on <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://BookmansBusiness.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://BookmansBusiness.blogspot.com</a>.
Posted by pbookman (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These "the online word-processing application...
... "spreadsheet and calendaring offerings..." are nothing new; as, it appears that some folks might have just been able to "open their eyes" and minds after drinking a few cups of "Lotus KONA":

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.morochove.com/watch/cw/ff70206.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.morochove.com/watch/cw/ff70206.htm</a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google want to know your everyting
I am not so aggree to put everything on the Internet, especially your financial data or your writing. These are very privately.

You might be know when you are using the gmail, After close the gmail broswe window without log out then you still keep login the google, so google can know what you did on search; But this time you try to use the gmail again, and it will ask you to login again. So weird? No, it just play the trick.
Posted by X-C3PO (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe it is free but
Think about it? Just think about it. A year or two mad me iffy of Google due to one of google's items being a major problem. Servers dock IP Addresses thats how they know who broke in and damaged their server items, or website. One question to ask is how much info does the server get from the products users? Second one is where does these finished documents go? Saved on computer? Files saved on server? Bad idea. The more people that connect to a server the slower the server reacts. Server is done you wont be able to retreive the program. Wont be able to to use the program if your net is down. And depending on where your finished data goes, your files could be out of reached or virused. Anyways nice light program but I think the potential free product users should asks lots of questions before they dare go remote.
Posted by Candya (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
linspire are you kidding me?
Linspire ohh yes the ones that made the most irritating nonsence of a OS of sorts. That was fun taking Linspire and making it win XP. that was a fun trip that I dont want to do ever again. Linspire products dont work well on Windows based computers. If you want to try go ahead but I wouldnt advertise Linspire... sorry Linspire Im not stupid. No offense ok? Just saying people that seem to know everything from openbsd, windows, linux dont like to suggest it either. To much bolognue i guess
Posted by Candya (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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