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Google Docs (Beta) review

Our Rating :

Google is best known for its search engine, but it has branched out in many ways, not least by producing free software.

Docs is its online office suite. Like Picasa, which was reviewed in our photo-management software round-up (Labs, Shopper 251), it’s technically still a beta release, but it looks and acts like the finished article.

Although it’s probably the best-known online office software, Docs is not comprehensive. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet and a basic presentation program, which offers no way to create vector graphics. The word processor isn’t as basic, but there’s no auto-complete function and no macro support or mail merge. It can record a document’s detailed revision history, though.

In Spreadsheet, it’s easy to create and modify documents. The program is capable, supporting features such as named ranges for easy navigation and a comprehensive list of formula functions. Some features are more limited; you can only freeze up to 10 rows and four columns.

Though neither is strictly part of Docs, a Google account lets you use Calendar and Mail, which you can set up to access third-party POP3 accounts. Docs makes the most of its online nature: it’s easy to share documents with other users and even publish them. However, it doesn’t support the most recent Office file formats.

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