Why Use Google Docs and Spreadsheets?

While the Linux community diligently creates a new distribution every day, Google is quietly building up infrastructure on the Internet.

I tried out the Google Documents and Spreadsheets service today. A quick login plus a couple of mouse clicks and I was ready to work.

Both applications were pretty fast over my cable/WiFi connection.

Although it looked fine with Firefox [Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686 (x86_64); en-US; rv: Gecko/20060728 Firefox/], Google advised that there are some issues with people running under Linux.

I tried to cut and paste some values and formulas from an OpenOffice.org Calc document (on my Linux laptop) and found that only the values came across. What’s more, I had to use Ctrl-v to even make that happen. At this point in time, pulling in existing data might be a problem in a business situation.

No doubt, these bumps will be ironed out over time. I’m glad Google uses and supports Linux.

Seems like Sun Microsystems had a vision like this way back in the early and mid-80’s. Back then, of course, we didn’t have what we know today for a browser. They did have a flavor of Unix and seemed to be concentrated on providing their customers with hardware and networking. As I recall third party vendors provided a host (my, isn’t that a paradox) of applications.

Fast forward to today.

People can download a nearly infinite selection of Linux distributions and supplemental applications. They can almost buy Linux laptops off-the-shelf. They can operate their systems, networks, and applications using cool Linux tools. The Nokia 770 runs a version of Linux, boots from a memory chip, and communicates over WiFi.

Using the new Google service, we now have another way to do our work, that’s even cheaper than “Free and Open Source” software. All you need to create, edit, and save a document or spreadsheet is a Google account and access to a Internet-connected browser. We’re now into Web 2.0. Are we flying toward Hardware 2.0?

Thankfully, I can still create and edit documents or spreadsheets on my own personal Linux box. I can still write scripts, run servers, and automate processes all I want. I can be the client or server end.

Windows users can do some of those same things on their machines. Well… I guess they can.

Google Maps I can see, but why would a businessman ever want to use Google Documents and Spreadsheets?

Rob Reilly is a consultant, trend spotter, and writer. He is a contributing editor for Linux Today. He advises clients on portable business computing and presentation technology integration. You can visit his web page at http://home.earthlink.net/~robreilly.

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Developer Insider for top news, trends, & analysis