Google creeping up on Microsoft Office

Bit by bit, Google seems to be creeping up on Microsoft Office. The company stepped up its challenge to Microsoft Office, adding a PowerPoint viewer to its online email client, Gmail.

Google mail users can now open business presentations inside their browsers – without opening Microsoft software on the desktop. This means that Gmail users who get Microsoft PowerPoint attachments in their mails can now view them without having PowerPoint installed on their PCs.

Gmail automatically links users to its new viewer whenever they receive PowerPoint attachments via email. The What’s new on Gmail page reads, “Just click “View as slideshow” next to the .ppt attachment you want to preview. Since you can open .doc and .xls attachments with Google Docs and Spreadsheets too, there’s no need to leave your web browser to check out your Gmail attachments.”

To open a Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT) file without downloading it to their computer users need to: Open the message containing an attachment; Click View as slideshow at the bottom of the message.

This will open users’ slides in a new browser window. They can navigate between slides by clicking the left and right arrow buttons at the top of the screen, or by choosing a specific slide from the dropdown menu in the upper right corner of the screen.

Though Google is yet to introduce a full-fledged application for creating and editing presentation files, it’s CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed that such an app was under development, at a conference this year.

“Gmail’s new slideshow feature allows users to open a slideshow of a Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT) file without having to download it to your computer,” told Google spokesperson in a statement. “This feature was a 20 per cent time project for a few engineers. This is a Gmail feature and is not related to our plans to incorporate presentation-sharing capabilities into Google Docs and Spreadsheets.”

However, please note that the viewer so far doesn’t open files saved in Microsoft’s new PowerPoint 2007 format.

Also, according to Google Blogoscoped’s Philipp Lenssen “Google doesn’t allow you to actually edit and create slideshows.” He, however, notes, that the company announced that such a presentation tool would come in a few months.