Google Spreadsheets - Surprise!

That’s right, while we were all waiting to see what Google would do with Writely, it turns out they whipped up their own spreadsheet app first.

Google will begin extending invitations for the beta tomorrow - sign up here - and of course if I am fortunate enough to gain one, I’ll be sure to pass along my impressions.

As with past launches, Spreadsheets will likely cause quite a stir in Redmond - and so in a muted attempt to soften the blow (or just add insult to injury) - in providing a link to the old Labs FAQ, Google makes sure to remind us all that taking on the world’s largest software company is just another way some engineers choose to while away their Friday afternoons.

Richard MacManus predicts Microsoft will react quickly - as if they couldn’t have seen this coming already…

And, as for “quickly” - I’ll believe that when I see it.

I’ve been using the beta of Office 2007 along with Office Live since they opened it to the public, and from what I can see Microsoft is either completely blind to this threat, or has given up on the average consumer entirely - in favor of deeper pockets in the business segment.

Of course, it’s equally possible they know something we don’t, or have something else up their sleeves entirely… only time will tell.

Speaking of time, the Writley blog says the plan is to open the service back up to the public in July - so I would say it’s safe to assume Google’s Web Office will quasi-launch sometime over the summer - well ahead of Vista and Office Live in January.

And don’t forget Yahoo’s new page design officially debuting this summer as well - with MSN Live Search hot on its heels…

With all that pressure mounting, is it any wonder Google finally seems to be rolling up their sleeves and pulling out the big guns - whether or not they admit to it?

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