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Google Unveils PowerPoint Competitor

Google Docs, which is trying to muscle in on Microsoft's Office suite, has released its PowerPoint counterpart, known as "Google Presentations."

Late last night, Google unveiled Presentations, which is part of the online-only Google Docs family. Other Docs programs include word processing and spreadsheets. Google hopes to gain market traction against the Office juggernaut through its Internet-based access.

Attila Bodis, a Google software engineer, blogged about the idea behind the Presentation program.

"Maybe more than any other type of document, presentations are created to be shared," Bodis wrote. "But assembling slide decks by emailing them around is as frustrating as it is time-consuming. The new presentations feature of Google Docs helps you to easily organize, share, present, and collaborate on presentations, using only a web browser."

Presentations has been fully integrated into Google Docs, and can be "edited, shared, and published using the familiar Google Docs interface, with several collaborators working on a slide deck simultaneously, in real time," Bodis wrote.

Presentations was first announced by Google in April, with a delivery date of "this summer," according to a blog entry at that time. Google made the deadline with a few days to spare.

Although Presentations aims at PowerPoint, it still has a long way to go to even approach PowerPoint's functionality, according to a blogger who's used the program. Harrison Hoffman, a Windows Live MVP and cofounder of Liveside.net, wrote on CNET that "Right off the bat, you will notice that Presentations has some of the same basic functionality as Microsoft's PowerPoint. It does enable you to create some really basic presentations, with themes, but the lack of features and slide show polish are real turn-offs for me."

Harrison liked some things about it, but said that they weren't enough to overcome its limitations. "Yes, there are nice collaboration features, just like the other Google Docs applications, but if the final product isn't on par with what PowerPoint produces, those features are almost irrelevant," he stated. "The omission of basic animations and transitions really take away from it."

Of course, Google Presentations is a brand-new product, whereas PowerPoint is a mature offering with many generations behind it. Bodis said it will get more useful. "We can't wait to add even more features and enhancements."

Google Docs is available as part of the Google Apps family. Google Apps includes, in addition to Docs, e-mail and calendar programs. The Standard Edition is free, and the Premier Edition, which includes more e-mail space and an uptime guarantee, is $50 per user per year.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at kward@1105media.com.

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