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[ossig] Google declares war on Microsoft


Google declares war on Microsoft
By Louise Crossen
06oct05 INTERNET search engine Google has declared war on Microsoft, announcing plans to launch free spreadsheet and word-processing software online.

Google has joined forces with US-based technology giant Sun Microsystems to allow web users to access Sun's OpenOffice from any personal computer.

Sun will offer Google's search toolbar with downloads of its free Java software, which now powers more than 2.5 billion gadgets around the globe, including 700 million PCs.

Sun Microsystems Australia spokesman Paul O'Connor said the deal was "huge".

"Worldwide, Google gets 80 million visitors a day," he said.

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"There are more than two billion of our Java-enabled devices out there.

"This deal brings both communities together."

Mr O'Connor said the deal was a wake-up call for traditional software companies such as Microsoft.

"At the moment most people are used to having to pay for software packages, but at the end of the day, the value is in the content and services ? not in the software itself," he said.

Software sales are still Microsoft's bread and butter, generating $US11 billion ($14.5 billion) last year alone.

But its near-monopoly on the market is now under threat, as rivals such as Sun offer free alternatives to its ubiquitous Word and Office programs.

Microsoft Australia declined to comment on the Google plans yesterday.

ZDNET Australia technology analyst Fran Foo said yesterday's announcement was a big win for consumers, who currently paid between $299 and $879 for Microsoft software bundles.

"Anything free is a win for consumers," she said.

"This also gives people choice."

Ms Foo said the deal also marked the start of a major expansion for Google. "Google is trying to penetrate the enterprise market and muscle in on the corporate sector," she said.

"They've already been able to place enormous pressure on Microsoft.

"This is a chance to win over corporate users, to be taken seriously."

Additional reporting AAP