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Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Google planning rival to Microsoft's PowerPoint

OFFICE CHALLENGE The firm said it would give away two versions of the presentation software starting this summer, and would also sell a 'Premier' version with extra storage

AGENCIES , SAN FRANCISCO

National Association of Broadcasters conference attendees watch Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt speak in Las Vegas on Monday.

PHOTO: AP

Google Inc plans to launch software similar to Microsoft Corp's popular PowerPoint program as the two companies vie to dominate the online experience.

Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt described the software on Tuesday at a conference for Internet entrepreneurs. He also blasted Microsoft and AT&T Inc, whose executives complained over the weekend that Google may soon have an illegal monopoly in online advertising.

Google announced last Friday it would pay US$3.1 billion to acquire ad-management technology company DoubleClick Inc. Almost as soon as Google announced the cash acquisition, AT&T and Microsoft executives said the deal could violate antitrust legislation -- and result in a dangerous concentration of Internet users' personal data at Mountain View-based Google.

But Schmidt, noting that Microsoft and AT&T have had their share of antitrust skirmishes, retorted: "Give me a break."

"They're wrong," Schmidt said. "It's false."

The verbal volleys come as Microsoft and Google escalate the rivalry to control how people use the Internet. The two companies already offer e-mail, word processing and spreadsheet programs, and other tools. Google's new presentation software will compete against Microsoft's ubiquitous PowerPoint software that is part of its popular Office suite.

"This completes what most users of PCs consider the Office suite," said John Battelle, who leads Federated Media Publishing and grilled Schmidt about the product at the conference.

Microsoft spokeswoman Lisa Koetz said competition is good for customers, and Microsoft is listening to the 450 million people who use Microsoft Office to ensure it is meeting their needs.

"The success we are seeing with the 2007 release of Microsoft Office tells us we are heading in the right direction," Koetz said.

People that use Google's software over the Internet can simply log in from any computer through a Web browser, while Microsoft Office must be installed on an individual computer.

Google would not release more details about the presentation software, though product manager Rajen Sheth said users would be able to store documents online and let anyone with a free Google account view the slides, spreadsheets or documents online.

Google said it would give away two versions of the presentation software starting this summer, and it would sell a "Premier" version with extra storage for US$50 per year. The presentation program is part of Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which the company has been unveiling piecemeal for nearly a year.

Google is also ready to introduce a copyright protection tool that helps media owners to automatically report acts of piracy on its YouTube video site, Schmidt said on Tuesday.

The new tools, known as "Claim Your Content," could resolve accusations that the world's largest provider of Web search services is tolerating piracy by consumers to share video on its YouTube Web site, he said.

That complaint is featured in a high-profile lawsuit filed last month by media conglomerate Viacom Inc that seeks more than US$1 billion in damages from Google for alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"As that product rolls out, the issue becomes moot," Schmidt said in response to an interviewer's question about how the tool might affect the suit. "We are automating that process to claim that content."

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