Google Pokes Microsoft With Writely Buy

from the hint-hint dept

For the longest time, Google has been extremely careful not to poke directly at Microsoft’s core OS or office suite business. In fact, last year when all the silly rumors were out about how Google was going to team with Sun to offer up a web-based version of Open Office, Google said repeatedly that they didn’t think it made much sense to just offer a clone of what Microsoft was doing. Back at CES when Google launched their Google Pack of free downloadable software, many people noticed the lack of Open Office — suggesting, again, that they didn’t want to tick off Microsoft directly. Perhaps the real answer was they were just looking for a better solution, one that fit with their view of the web-based world. Om Malik broke the story yesterday with the rumor, but now it’s been confirmed that Google has purchased the online word processor Writely. It will be interesting to see what they do with it, but this does seem to fit with Google’s past moves. Rather than just a word processor clone, Writely’s advantage is in its collaborative tools, leveraging the benefits of being a web-based app. Google has always said they didn’t want to just copy Microsoft, unless it was doing something in a different, more sensible way — and Writely qualifies on that regard. It’s interesting that their first move is to actually shut the system down for new users (existing accounts still work, as far as I can see), as they move the system over to Google’s architecture. It will be worth watching just how long this takes, and if it will cause any problems. Still, Microsoft will likely view this as a much more direct attack — especially coming so soon after Microsoft’s new focus on its “Live” strategy. Bet you can’t wait to see the response.

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Comments on “Google Pokes Microsoft With Writely Buy”

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Vibe says:

Re: hmm wonder why Microsoft wasnt available for c

How can you consider $FREE overpriced?
I can’t speak for the bugginess, as all new software has em. They’ll work it out eventually.

I doubt that too.
I am sure that a few people could come up with a few hundred scenarios where it could be useFUL 😉

Regular Joe says:

Re: Re: Free ain't the same as private.

Free? How about paying for all that free with your privacy?
Writely is cute, but it isn’t going to even dent Office’s armor anytime soon. There’s a hundred good WYSIWYG editors out there, and even some good word processors. None can compare on features, integration, file compatibility, and user comfort.
Cute and private-not is about all you’ll get on this one.

Agonizing Fury says:

Why buy a Hard Drive?

The way google is going I seem to have fewer and fewer uses for the hard drive in my computer (or my USB memory stick for that matter). I used to keep my mail on my hard drive now it’s in my Gmail account. Most of my favorite RSS feeds on my Google home page. I used to log chats to my hard drive and now, they’re in my Gmail account too. Now when I’m writing a paper, it’ll be in my Gwrite account (or whatever Name they come up with for it). If google keeps up all this innovation, and can continue to make consumers feel that data is safe and secure on their servers, we may soon lose the need for faster bigger computers as most of the processing and storage of all our data will be done by google (kinda scary huh?)

HotGarbage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

I really love the ideas that Google is implementing. I am all google all the time, but at the same time something to the tune of eggs and baskets come to mind. I am a little wary. But then again just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean that everyone’s not out to get you. Two things can be true at the same time.

mike says:

Re: Re: Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

Move out of their core business? This is their core business if you haven’t noticed.

As they state clearly in their mission Google has set out to organize the world’s information and make it easily accessible.

They are not a search engine company, they are not a web company, they are a company that organizes and makes available/accessible information. How do you do this? Well for starters the more content you own, control, manager, or have direct acess to the more successful you will be at organizing it for your users.

All of their services and the companies they purchased from what is now Gooogle Earth, Blogger, to mobile co’s like Andraoild and Dodgeball all have access to lots of data/content/info call it whatever you want.

This is not moving from their core it’s adressing their core by taking their blinders off and recognizing that what we see as the web and web technology will change a lot in the coming years.

As Marshall McLuhan said… IBM is not in the business of typewriters or business machines (yes I’m paraphrasing) but processing information. This is why IBM still is around and still adapting to new technologies while other companies are long gone.

Tyshaun says:

Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

The way google is going I seem to have fewer and fewer uses for the hard drive in my computer (or my USB memory stick for that matter). I used to keep my mail on my hard drive now it’s in my Gmail account. Most of my favorite RSS feeds on my Google home page. I used to log chats to my hard drive and now, they’re in my Gmail account too. Now when I’m writing a paper, it’ll be in my Gwrite account (or whatever Name they come up with for it). If google keeps up all this innovation, and can continue to make consumers feel that data is safe and secure on their servers, we may soon lose the need for faster bigger computers as most of the processing and storage of all our data will be done by google (kinda scary huh?)

I think a healthy dose of pessimissm is appropriate hear. Replacing Outlook with Gmail is one thing, it actually makes a lot of sense since e-mail is communication and gmail allows your communication to not be tied to a particular machine, as outlook kinda does. However, word processing is a different matter. Most people, I would dare say, won’t ever need to take advantage of collaborative document features, and unless the online word processing app IS “the killer app” it seems that it’s appeal in the mainstream audience would be small at best (except for those who didn’t have the funds to spring for Word when they got their box).

Also, I’d be a little leery of keeping my formal correspondance and other letters on some server I have no control over. E-mail is one thing, it has to be stored on a server somewhere, but my letters don’t. As good a rep as Google has built up it is only as good as the headline in the NY Times that says “Disgruntled Google employee offloads entire corporate database to a spammers server” or “Russian hacker gets into google mainframe and disperses information all over the web”. Wait, didn’t something like that just happen to iBill like today?

Kamujin says:

Re: Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

I like GMail alot.
However, my Outlook synchronizes with my TREO 650 in a way that really is helpful.
If Google wants to take on the office suite, there is some serious functionity they are going to have to provide a solution for. Lets not forget one of the REAL unduplicated features of the Office suite is the automation support. Thats going to be hard to push to a server model and people are just not going to give that up easily. Especially not for Excel.

BigDogg says:

Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

Maybe you don’t understand fully what Google gets out of you keeping all your data on their systems. If you read the fine print, they have the right to scan your data and log all content which they put into a database. Then sell your name and e-mail address to advertisers based on the content which you provided. You are making yourself a very large target for advertisers.

Jim Page says:

Re: Re: Why buy a Hard Drive?

I’ll take that hard-drive. If you trust Google with your sensitive data, you probably trust everyone here and won’t wipe the drive.
“All google, all the time”? Geez. Google, to me, is a search engine. Period. I don’t want any part of their software offerings installed on any PC I own or any PC in my company. That’s just begging for for them to gain access to your data. No thanks Google, Yahoo or any other search engine company that wants to install toolbars and desktop search software.

Shelvin Datt (user link) says:

Google's goals

Firstly it seems that most of you don’t understand Googles goals. Google is now is primary focused on web based tool sets it can provide end users with, while some third party (other then the end user) is paying for it. This is usually done via placement of adverts.

Now Writely fits in with its goals, as it can be the in editor for Gmail…. They are coping Microsoft big time now but through the back door, what Microsoft did for the desktop, they are trying to do to the webtop. Look at all the Widgets they are providing.

Writely is to GMail as MS Word is to OutLook.

And to call Writely an Innovation is a Joke fokes. Writely is nothing more than a online HTML editor that has been used in CMS (Content manangement system) for a long time now.

The only difference is that people can register themselves and become their own publishers, publish their own html documents, save it on Writely websites storage units, to be served up at a later date.

Sun did try to have a Webtop system but it was a flop. The webtop was to be the portal to one’s virtual desktop. It was to have a Office Suit, and this was the time Open Office was aqcutioned by Sun. Now there’s Sun Java System Portal Server. This newer product does everything Writely does, but it is closed to the General Web Public, ie is installed by an organistation(Business/College/Government agency/enterprise) to be only accessed by its members(End users with the organisation). With Writely anyone can become a member which is its only key difference.

Anyway I have never believed the 2 lads at Google to be very bright, after all in the very begining they did walk off with someone else research and hard work, the only thing those boys have got for themselves is some Business sense, and that too they gained by looking at Yahoo.

Take a look at Yahoo and see how close Google is to this.

Yahoo News (1995 something), Google News (Beta) 2000 something, Yahoo Mail (sometime back), GMail (only 2005 something).

Google are (were) a favourite with everyone around the globe as they were the under dog of Search engines and have done very well for themselves, but are no longer the underdog of providing web based website page searches.

Anyway got to go back and do some coding, enuf of the bable, bable.

Badger says:

Re: Google's goals

Shelvin, you do a nice job of putting Writely in perspective, but you take some liberties with Google’s history at the end of your article.

The “2 lads at Google” didn’t walk off with anyone else’s research. If you’re talking about Back-Rub, the research project that became Google-Bot and PageRank, you need to take another look at the byline. It was those two “lads” that did that early research as students at Stanford.

You could argue that they “used” Yahoo! to gain early exposure for Google, when they were operating it’s search engine, but you really can’t say that Google gained business sense from Yahoo!. Google took a drastically different approach from Yahoo! in just about every way: they perfected their core offering before branching out, they created advertising opportunities for clients of any size, they took a much more disciplined approach to the style relevancy and placement of ads that they served to customers, and they waited much longer for their IPO. They didn’t get to eclipse Yahoo!’s revenues by doing things the same way.

You can’t possibly hope to compare Google’s services with Yahoo!’s, saying that Google is playing the copycat here. Yahoo! is an older company and was launching new services before Google was founded. Google is not launching services to compete with Yahoo!. Rather, they are launching new products when they’ve found a new approach to existing offerings, be they from Yahoo! or from anyone else.

Writely itself may be a simple tool, but Google can make some hella good lemonade from any variety of lemon.

Ch355ir3Ca7 says:

Except just beause google might be copying ideas put out by other search engines doesnt mean anything, they are doing a much better job of it, with your example of Gmail, last i checked yahoo mail doesnt give you over 2GB worth of storage space, just because its not a new idea doesnt mean anything, they are pulling the job off better than the orginal idea creator. I have never used Google news so i dont know the difference between the two, i havent used yahoo news either, but google does a good job of taking ideas and putting them out better than the rest of the people, in my opinion.

Shelvin Datt (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Now Google are only copying the initial ideas of others, and making slight improvements but thats it.

Again what you must understand is that I have no qarms with someone improving on ideas, otherwise we all would still be riding in charriots after the invention of the wheel, but in this day and age we do have automobiles of all sorts, so I do agree with what you are saying that Google gives you 2GB of storage.

Gmail is only a knee jurk reaction to what Microsoft have proved since Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access. Please note the Microsoft Office bit here as I came to use this in 2002 when it was installed with our New Windows 2000 Server with Microsoft Exchange 2000.

This should give you some indication, that Microsoft were working on this some time in 1999 or earlier to develop such a product, have it tested, marketed and then commerically released, after the beta testing period expired.

Now I dont know if you have used Microsoft Office Outlook web access, but when you use it and compose an email message you will very quickly realise that its editor does have some similarity to very early versions of Words before version 4.0 etc. or there are some elements of a document editor of some sort.

It would be interesting to see Microsoft Office Word Web Access, Microsoft Office Excel Web Access, Microsoft Office Power Point Web Access, and then Microsoft Office Access Web Access. This is why I earlier wrote for attention to be paid to the Microsoft Office bit in Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access.

As for copying ideas or making them better Microsoft is no amerture in this game. Microsoft Atlas is a copy of google maps, but before we discuss AJAX, take a look at

Oh but wait, you want an equivelent to, and here’s microsofts one:-

How neat is that, I can add my own push pins, with my own comments such as “Ate bad Barito, in South Dakota”

Want a better email service then Hotmail go to MSN Hotmail Beta and be a beta tester of the service.

Or visit Windows Live IDEAs site And yes you do get 2GB of storage space for all your email.

Any ways I dont want to do Microsoft’s Promotion and Marketing work for them.

At the moment all these services are free from Microsoft, but they do say they will charge a monthly fee, but then again you dont get those annoying Adverts on the side 🙂

B.J.L. says:

Have some faith!

I think peoples’ biggest problem is that they’re all so republican. ONE: google’s not going to go selling peoples’ info or using it. They aren’t going through all of this work to put out all of these free services just to shoot themselves in the foot. If they start getting complaints, they start loosing customers, if they start loosing customers their products loose quality. It a circle that they are well aware of, meening they arn’t going to do anything to burn peoples trust in the services. Telling us, this is quality and safe stuff!

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