Last Updated: October 12, 2015 0

Free Spreadsheets From Google.

Found In: Business

Google’s corporate culture is all about being innovative and this is supported by the company’s commitment to encourage all staff to spend twenty per cent of their working time on projects not related to the contracted role, but rather to any project of the staff member’s choosing that they have a deep interest in. This has spawned a large number of new and exciting experimental applications and ways to interact with other people and also new ways to share and access information. Google has also been a highly acquisitive business and often these acquisitions are part of its recruiting drive to hire the best minds in technology. That is, not only are all the best schools the subject of extensive recruiting drives, and head hunting done from the largest technology companies, often Google has found real talent already in the business market working on their own projects. At these times, by acquiring the company they work, Google has soaked up the applications as well as the creative talent that conceived of them.

Google Spreadsheets Was Acquired to Grow Software as a Service

And this is how Google Spreadsheets was born. At roughly the same time that Google desired to have its Google Docs business model, it acquired a product called Writely when it bought a company called Upstartle. Parallel to this, it bought XL2Web, which had its own spreadsheet publishing to the web software application tool kit. By combining these two products, and the teams of people that had developed them, Google Docs was born, first in the form of Google Labs Spreadsheets.

Google Labs has been disbanded or discontinued since October 2011, but up until then it was web page where millions of users could play with the experimental products being developed by Google. It was where users could test things out, report bugs and provide feedback to developers for product improvements.

It is little surprise that Google and Microsoft compete head to head for domination in the Internet, search and software application space. Whereas Microsoft’s share price has done nothing special for many years, Google’s own share price has rocketed out of nowhere to quickly become a massive concern. Certainly a massive concern to the management of Microsoft which has felt the pressure of Google in the market place and with the brain drained they have suffered in favor of Google.

Google Spreadsheets Goes head to Head with Microsoft Excel

Google’s Spreadsheets as a software service officially supports the recent versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web site browsers. And these can be run on Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, or the Linux operating system. As a fully functional spreadsheet with all of the fruit people have come to expect from Microsoft’s Excel desktop product. In fact it has fundamental advantages over Microsoft’s offering.

Because Google Spreadsheets is available free, this raises the question of why people would continue to pay for Microsoft Office’s suite. When adding in the advantage that google Spreadsheets is an online software service, everyone’s work is always available to them from where ever they can gain access to the Internet. This opens up the huge productivity gain of being able to access information when it is needed, without the need to transport necessary files in anticipation of needing them at another place. This is a very subtle by fundamental productivity gain, given how many times people have a sudden inspiration about a work spreadsheet document but would otherwise lose that creativity if the user was unable to access the work file online.

It is common for larger spreadsheet projects to be worked on collaboratively by a small team of people, and this in the past has caused problems with desktop versions of Excel or Lotus spreadsheet applications, because soon enough each user has a different version of the file, and often one person’s work has been overlooked and worked on by another team member. The obvious and commonsense way to solve this problem is to only have one copy of the file, retained safely in the “Internet Could”, so that when each member logs in, they are viewing and continuing to edit the latest version of it. Of course there are all the change tracking and reviewing tools so that each user can see and approve of the editing changes made by others. This causes the collective wisdom of the team to be accumulated without anything meaningful ever getting lost along the way.

Greatly Improved Functions in Google Spreadsheets

With the latest release of Google Spreadsheets, its presentation functionality has been greatly improved so that the information can be presented as slide shows, and participants in the presentation can participate by means of the inbuilt chat program function. Plus many new themes have been added to make it easier to add more pizzazz to the presentation. Even screen readers are available for blind users to have access to the information that they need.

Google Spreadsheets has access to more complex formulas than ever before, as well as conditional formatting that enables documents to be grown quickly that more adequately highlights key information. And the automatic translation features are very powerful additions to the feature set. A big part of online “software as a service” applications is the security of access to the information. Whilst it is old news that desktop data is not especially safe from computer hackers, there is no need to feel that data stored online is any less safe. Google Spreadsheets provides the ability to publish the document online publicly for all to see, or for it to be limited to a small number of intended viewers and collaborators or in fact no one other than the user himself.
Google Spreadsheets truly makes it easy to track budgets and to run financial calculations and new data sets on the fly. The flexibility with which they can be laid out and the information highlighted makes them a joy to work with. Oh, and it is free.