Google Gobbles Up Web-Based Word Processor Writely

Search giant Google (GOOG) says it has purchased the company that makes Writely, a Web-based word processing feature.

Writely is, simply put, a word processor embedded into a Web browser. It's still in a nascent beta form and is no longer freely distributed; "it's far from perfect," Jen Mazzon writes in her newly revealed role as a member of the Google Writely team.

Despite the drawbacks, it apparently fits perfectly into Google's plans. While better known for its consumer search engine, Google is mounting a significant effort to win over office computer desktops.

Its earlier release of a Google Pack of online features, and a deal with Sun Microsystems (SUN) to deliver the digitized goods was a step in this direction.

In order to battle office software king Microsoft (MSFT), Google needs to fatten its array of business class offerings to fill glaring holes, such as a day planner.

Another missing staple is a word processing program. Writely, made by Upstartle, could fit the bill.

"If a decent spreadsheet/database/presentation program goes to Google, this could undermine some of Microsoft's Office revenue," said one industry insider who asked to be unnamed.

Google's latest purchase is in line with its preferred means of delivering its software and services over the Internet, rather than selling it on compact disks, writes Om Malik, the analyst who first reported on the pending buy.

The drawback to this approach, though, is that lots of material has to be stored on Google's network of servers.

"Convincing the masses that their documents will be safe, especially with all that has been going on lately, may be quite challenging, even if it's FREE!," Malik adds.

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