Google Pushes Deeper Into Microsoft Software

Blogger for Word is a free add-in that lets a Google subscriber save a Word document as a post to the blog, without opening a web browser. The application appears as three buttons in the Word toolbar and requires Microsoft Windows 2000 and Word 2000 or more recent versions of the products.

The add-in's features include the ability to take the text from a Word document and publish it to a person's blog, open and edit the last 15 blog posts and save text in a Blogger account for later editing and posting.

Rivals Microsoft MSN, Google and Yahoo Inc. have been developing software that links their online services, particularly search, directly to the desktop. The reason is to entice people to one of the portals before they open a web browser.

Google remains the No. 1 search engine, capturing 47 percent of all online queries in the second quarter, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Nevertheless, studies show that most online consumers use multiple search engines in researching products or services, which shows a lack of loyalty.

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To try to lure consumers into making it their gateway to the web, Google is looking to the desktop, as well as the browser, which all three rivals target with search toolbars.

Besides Blogger for Windows, Google also offers a desktop search application and mapping software called Google Earth, which uses broadband streaming technology to show an aerial view of a user-requested location. The software can zoom in from space-level close enough to see streets and buildings, and overlays the search location on the picture. It also includes local search for finding businesses, residences, points of interest and other places.

Microsoft has a similar online product called Virtual Earth.

Some experts believe Google has done a better job at connecting its services to the desktop than MSN, even though Microsoft has a monopoly with the Windows operating system.

“Despite the commitment from its top ranks that it is fighting to beat Google, Microsoft hasn&'t quite figured out how to transfer its Windows platform ubiquity into a dominant position as an interface to the Internet,” Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee Results, said.

The web-consulting firm works with the University of Michigan in its annual American Customer Satisfaction Index for the major portals. Released this week, Google had the highest ACSI score, with Yahoo a close second and MSN third.

People installing Blogger for Word could confront several problems, including the need to update their Windows 2000 systems before starting the install. Details are available on Google's Blogger site.