Google Docs Aims At Microsoft Office Live With 'Gears'

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Google said users of its Google Docs word processing application can use Google Gears to save and then edit documents without being connected to the Internet.

"Cloud computing is great, but you need the cloud to make it work," Philip Tucker, software engineer, Google Docs, wrote in a Google blog. "On an airplane, on the shuttle commuting to work, or at home when my cable modem goes down, I want to work on my documents. And, until now, that usually meant saving a copy and editing on the desktop.

"Now there's a better solution. With Google Docs offline, I can take my little piece of the cloud with me wherever I go," Tucker added. "Once enabled, I have a local version of my document list and editors, along with my documents."

The editing feature, Google Gears, is an application programming interface introduced by Google more than a year ago to application developers to create Web applications that can run offline.

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The technology already works within Google's news feed reader, Google Reader, and applications from independent Web developers such as task-management service "Remember the Milk," from an Australian-based company of the same name, Reuters reported.

"Everything I need is saved locally," Tucker said. "And I do everything through my web browser, even when I'm offline (the goodness that Google Gears provides). When my connection comes back, my documents sync up again with the server."

With this offline functionality, Google Docs has another important feature that it can sell as it competes with Microsoft Live, which capitalizes on the strengths of its Office suite.