Battle with Microsoft? Writely so, says Google


10 Mar 2006

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Not content with search, advertising, messaging and email, web giant Google has opened a new front in its war against Microsoft for the eyeballs of the world with plans to roll out a free web-based word processor after acquiring a Web 2.0 company called Upstartle. The move could allow Google to take Microsoft’s US$11.5bn Office business in the flank.

In its respective blogs Google and Silicon Valley-based Upstartle confirmed the acquisition.

The acquisition will enable Google to deploy Upstartle’s Writely online word-processing technology, which is based on the Web 2.0 application AJAX.

Jen Mazzon of Google’s Writely team described the technology as a collaborative word processor that runs on a web browser.

In her blog, Mazzon says that Writely is still in beta format and that the technology will enable web users to access their documents from anywhere on the web. “Everyone told us it was crazy to try and give people a way to access their documents from anywhere, not to mention share documents instantly or collaborate online within their browsers. But that’s exactly what we did. Since we launched the Writely beta in August 2005 many thousands of people have registered and all of them came through word of mouth (and blog).

“To be clear, Writely is still in beta and it’s far from perfect. Upholding our great user experience means everything to us so we’re not accepting new registrations until we’ve moved Writely to Google’s software architecture,” Mazzon says.

She pointed to a waitlist that interested web users can join at: http://www2.writely.com/info/WritelyOverflowWelcome.htm.

As well as the forthcoming word processor product, Google already offers email programme Gmail with 2.6GB of storage space, web publishing via Blogspot, homepages through Googlepages and an online calendar programme called CL2 is in development.

By John Kennedy