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Google Docs getting major update

With the release of Microsoft's Office Web Apps imminent, Google understands the need to step up their game. The current version of Google Docs proves great as a collaboration tool, but, admittedly, contains nowhere near the capabilities of Microsoft's Office suite. Google plans to change that, and as a result, push themselves further into the hearts and pockets of companies worldwide.

On The Official Google Docs Blog, Google has announced an update to their popular Google Docs service. The update is considered to be a major change in the underlying engine used by the service. On their Enterprise Blog, Google sums up the aim of the pending changes.

"These improvements to Google Docs are designed to help businesses like yours move to the cloud faster and be more productive than ever before."

Below are some of the changes that have been made. The new features and improved performance come at the request of users worldwide.

Document editor

  • Real-time editing - see character by character changes made by all collaborators
  • Sidebar chat
  • Improved document formatting - imports and exports stay formatted correctly
  • Revamped comment system
  • Real margins and tab stops
  • Improved image layout inside documents

Spreadsheet editor

  • Speed and performance improvements
  • Formula bar for cell editing
  • Auto-complete
  • Drag and drop columns
  • Simpler navigation between sheets

Drawings editor

  • Real-time collaboration on flow charts, designs, diagrams, and other business graphics
  • Copy drawings into documents and spreadsheets using web clipboard
  • Share and publish drawings

The new editors are not compatible with Google Gears and will, therefore, not support offline mode at launch. In the near future, Google will harness the power of HTML5 to bring back offline support.

Google says that the drawings editor will be available today. Previews of the new spreadsheets and documents editors will be made public over the next few days. There will be an option at the top of a document or spreadsheet to use "New Version."

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