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Review: Google Spreadsheet Beta Doesn't Quite Add Up

There's a lot of talk around the blogosphere about how Google is starting to challenge Microsoft for primacy in office applications. This isn't very surprising: Google's already got an e-mail client (Gmail), a scheduling app (Google Calendar), and has bought a company called Upstartle in order to obtain its Writely word processor (which is not currently taking on new users but, according to the company's blog, might reappear for invitees early in July). Now Google has released the beta of an online spreadsheet called, appropriately, Google Spreadsheet.

Google Spreadsheet is obviously aimed straight at the consumer/home office market -- in other words, at people who use their spreadsheets for reasonably simple accounting processes, data tracking, or other tasks. Since that is exactly where I fall in -- I use it for simple statistics and as a sort of "database lite" -- I thought I'd give it a try.

Click image to enlarge.

As a whole, I found Google's new app very easy to learn and use. It has the familiar spreadsheet look; three tabs on the upper left of your page -- Format, Sort, and Formulas -- give you access to the main features. On the upper right, buttons let you cut, copy, paste, undo, or redo any action. You can have up to 20 tabbed pages per worksheet; as in Excel, you access each at the bottom of the spreadsheet. A File drop-down menu offers access to the usual New, Open, Save As commands, as well as the ability to import and export.

There are several hundred formulas available in Google Spreadsheet; a sampling is accessible from a pop-up box (with the most popular listed on the right-hand side of the Formulas menu bar). If you prefer, of course, you can simply type your formulas into the appropriate cell.

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