UPDATE: Google combines spreadsheets and word processing

Chicago (IL) - Google today introduced today a hybrid version of its online spreadsheet and word processing applications. As such, Writely, the company Google acquired for online word processing, will lose its original name in favor of the new title "Google Docs". The new software, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, provides an integrated version of the two free online services.

Since one of the key features is online collaboration with other people, the big advantage to Google Docs & Spreadsheets is that document originators can more easily set other users to have access to their slate of files. Previously, there was no integration between the two, leaving users to set sharing capabilities for both Writely and Google Spreadsheets separately.

The new hybrid application gives users a Gmail-type interface where all online documents are listed with icons differentiating spreadsheet and word processing files. It also shows at a glance the list of users who are entitled to view and/or edit each individual document.

Like Gmail, files can be tagged, starred, archived, and sorted in multiple ways. Users can also perform comprehensive searches to find words or phrases throughout all documents. This list of features gives Google some advantages over the current market leading Microsoft Office. However, Office software is still equipped more sophisticated features than Google's offering.

Jen Mazzon, the senior product marketing manager for Google, posted a blog entry on the official Google blog where she outlines the new Google Docs & Spreadsheets combo application. "Keeping your documents and spreadsheets online is a treat because you can access them from anywhere via a Web browser. You can also get feedback and contributions from others you invite without having to email around copies of files, because the current version is always online," she wrote.

She also pointed out a small mini-tour of the software, which basically points out the features of Writely and Google Spreadsheets, which have been available for a while, and how they interact with each other in the new project.

Google's word processing and spreadsheet software, which store all information on online servers rather than individuals' computer hard drives, were first available to the public earlier this year.