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So, Google Plans To Make Overheads of Its Push onto Microsoft's Turf

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has confirmed one of his tight-lipped company's open secrets

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has confirmed one of his tight-lipped company's open secrets: it's planning to add a PowerPoint knockoff to Docs & Spreadsheets, its on-demand productivity suite.

When exactly Eric didn't say - a Google blog says this summer - and he didn't claim it would replace PowerPoint. "It does not have all the functionality nor is it intended to have all the functionality of Microsoft," he said, but "it seems to be a better fit to how people use the web."

Yeah, and according to him he isn't building a Microsoft competitor either.

People with a free Google account should be able to create, share, edit and display presentations and slide shows.

Fueling this latest adventure is Google's acquisition of a San Francisco/Melbourne, Australia start-up by the name of Tonic Systems and its Java-based PowerPoint-compatible technology on undisclosed terms. Apparently, and we say this from reading Google's blog, Tonic will be used to add to Google's own capabilities going forward.

Pre-acquisition, Tonic, which isn't taking any new accounts any more, sported widgetry like TonicPoint Builder, TonicPoint Filters, TonicPoint Transformer, JarJar Links and TonicPoint Viewer - which was supposed to display PowerPoint graphics on any platform. It says in its FAQ - which is all that remains of its web site - that, besides presentation creation, it can do text extraction for indexing documents and document conversion.

Hmmm. Document conversion. Seems before its acquisition, Tonic was a member of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) technical committee and could convert PowerPoint files to PDF, SVG, SWF and a range of raster image formats via TonicPoint Transformer. It also wanted to convert PowerPoint to and from ODF.

At one point Tonic told the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that it wanted to develop a presentation converter (not a plug-in) capable of converting legacy and XML formats to and from ODF for which it would charge $30-$50 for a desktop version and $3,000 for a server with support and upgrades running 15% of the annual license fee. It told Massachusetts it needed a completed ODF specification to do the work and assumed it would get that by this past December. It could then have its contributions ready this year starting about now.

Anyway, Google's own in-house PowerPoint-like project was codenamed "Presently," recalling Google's acquisition of the web-based word processor Writely, now the "Docs" in Docs & Spreadsheets. The official name of its upcoming slide software will reportedly be Google Presents. When it hits market, there will be two versions: a freebie one and a Premier edition with extra storage that will sell for $50 a year.

The Google Presents announcement came during Eric's keynote at the Web 2.0 Exposition Tuesday in San Francisco where he used a beta version to show his overheads.

Meanwhile, Google has started its own version of the Wayback Machine with the addition of an Archive button that recycles dated material not turned up by its conventional search. There's also a new Blogs button as well.

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