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Monday, August 21, 2006

Google’s Sneaky Re-Release of Writely

Posted by @ 4:40 am

One of Google’s recent acquisitions received a sneaky re-open on Thursday night. While the search engine juggernaut focused on publicising their involvement in the Star Trek convention, their Writely web word processor was quietly re-released to the masses almost secretly.

Writely offers users most of the standard features you would expect from a modern word processor, plus the benefits of online storage, collaborative editing from anywhere on the net and document sharing.

The feature that has many touting it as a Microsoft killer is Writely’s ability to accept Microsoft’s Word documents plus many other word processing document formats. This includes layout, tables, embedded images and fonts.

Google’s Writely, while still in beta, places pressure on Microsoft who is striving to control the online software market in the same way they did the personal computer software industry. Coupled with Google Spreadsheets, Google is definitely trying to stake its claim on the online SAAS (Software as a Service) market.

Another great feature that Writely offers is the ability to post directly to blogs such as Blogger, Movable Type and via Bloglines RSS feeds, which is an important feature in this user generated content environment.

That said, Google’s Writely does have its deficiencies. Grammar checking, word counts and other word processing add-ons are notable omissions. There is also an obvious lack of integration with Google Spreadsheets and Google’s existing accounts.

For those looking for a word processing alternative, or looking to embrace online software, Writely is definitely worth a look. I think its best feature is the ability to collaborate and review documents with colleagues online from remote locations in real time.

Give Writely a test drive and let us know what you think.

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (5 - comments)

Where’s the comparison between Writely and Windows Live Writer? Word and Writely are not true competition; people who could be served by Writely could be served by OpenOffice Writer, or even WordPad. Real Word users will find Writely inadequate.

By Olu - August 21, 2006

I am a little concerned about the accuracy of the details of this article. For instance, this article mentions that “word counts” are not a feature Writely supports.

In fact, Writely does have a word count feature. In any document, just select “Edit” -> “Count Words.”

By Bob - August 21, 2006

Open Office Writer is very good. I have been more than three years without using MS-Word(r), and doing complex documents, creating RFC´s, RFP´s, complex models for capacity planning and load prediction with Open Office Calc. In fact Open Office 2 is the biggest open source project in the world. Nobody can ignore that. The Web based Writely is a good option to avoid the “My Desktop” dependency and be free from the “computer in the studio´s corner at home” paradigm. Change and innovation always offends to laggards. Three hurras for Writely.

By Carlos Biscione - August 21, 2006

Usually when you see the word SPELL with a check mark next to it, that’s a spell checker.

By Derreck - August 22, 2006

Thanks Bob for pointing out that Writely does in fact have a word count function.

I must have missed it when I first looked over its feature set. That said, there are probably other features I am yet to uncover.

And Olu, you’re right that there are other online word processing services available. I might look to do a comparison of the other services available at some point in the future.

By Rene LeMerle - August 22, 2006

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