The Writely service has now been merged with Google’s spreadsheet system to become the imaginatively named “Google Docs & Spreadsheet“. Hop on over to Read/Write Web to see more about this, and some basic screenshots. Zoli also has a good commentary on this, and other services in the same space.
I was using Writely last night, and checking back this morning it’s all gone Google on the interface, but all the functionality is still there. Personally I don’t think it looks as cool as before, but then I don’t judge its usefulness on how cool it is really.
The real value of this move is that it’s the first step towards tighter integration of Google’s other services, including the newly redesigned Google Reader. Throw GMail and the rapid advance of RSS into the pot as well, and suddenly the possibilities for how this kind of suite of tools could be used get very exciting.
The space between desktop conventional office suites and web services is closing at a faster rate than ever before. The collaborative nature of web 2.0 means that the functionality offered by these new web services will be increasingly valuable against their non-connected desktop competitors.
The only downside I can see is that for large-scale corporate adoption, suppliers may need to overcome some concerns about data security and protection. Until the services beef up their service levels (and of course charging models) to ensure that companies can be confident of the integrity and confidentiality of their data, I can’t see many of Microsoft’s big corporate customers looking favourably on these new services.