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Apr 1 2008   12:06PM GMT

Google Docs now available offline (kind of)

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

The Microsoft vs. Google battle has officially expanded to the desktop. Google Docs — albeit an extremely limited version — is now available offline.

With the Google Gears browser extension, users can now edit and save their documents locally when they don’t have an Internet connection. Then when they reconnect, their local information automatically syncs with Google’s online servers.

Google Docs software engineer Philip Tucker wrote about the news yesterday and posted a video demo by Google Docs product manager Ken Norton.

Google’s offline move comes as Microsoft continues to make more of its software available as online services. The big question about Microsoft is if the company truly understands the online market, but the same must be asked about Google and the traditional, on-premise software market.

For example, only Google Docs’ word processing documents will be available offline — not its spreadsheets or presentations. Tucker also admits that users will “sacrifice some features” when using the offline version. And these limitations will likely keep Google Docs offline from being a serious Microsoft Office competitor for the time being.

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