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Google Spreadsheet: Good for Fun, Bad for Work

Google's launch of an online spreadsheet promised great fun for those who wanted to know what would happen when the unstoppable force that is Google collided with the immovable object that is Microsoft.

But the impact on the enterprise will be a light tap, not a big bang. Web apps are fine as auxiliary tools for tasks that aren't critical to our jobs. They're equally well-suited to installations where deploying complex client-server applications may be unrealistic or unwanted (witness the success of

But Web spreadsheets and word processors fit neither category. These apps are critical to how we work. So, IT must provide tools that are always available. Internet apps don't fit that bill because high-speed, wireless Internet access is neither ubiquitous nor inexpensive enough to provide sufficient access. Spreadsheets and word processors also are easy to deploy and maintain. When was the last time you heard IT protest that Microsoft Office was too burdensome to support?

Web spreadsheets and word processors will generate buzz. They'll even serve niches, such as functioning as collaboration tools. And we can all enjoy watching two 900-pound gorillas beat the hell out of each other over them. But in the end they won't replace their desktop cousins.