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Online business Toolkit - Google offers web-hosted presentation tool

Google is adding a feature to its Docs & Spreadsheets web-hosted software that will enable people to create presentations and slide shows, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said on Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Schmidt gave a short presentation made using the new feature, which he said would be launched soon. He offered no specific timeframe.

"It's a way of doing presentations," he said in a keynote address. "Collaboration is a killer app for how communities work."

Asked by author and blogger John Battelle if Google's enhanced Docs & Spreadsheets would compete with Microsoft Office, Schmidt said: "We don't think so. It doesn't have all the functionality, nor is it intended to have the functionality of products like Microsoft Office."

Rumours of a Google "PowerPoint killer" have been circulating for months.

Google has been releasing more and more productivity applications as free, online services, starting with Gmail in 2004. Last year, Google merged its Documents and Spreadsheets products. Despite Google executives' claims that the company is not competing with Microsoft, industry insiders, including Battelle, say that by offering free online versions of fee-based Microsoft desktop software, Google is targeting Microsoft's cash cow. And Microsoft's response — Windows Live — has not exactly paid off.

"Come on! It's a competitor to Microsoft Office," Battelle said, prompting a round of applause from a concurring audience. "This provides [people] with a free alternative, which has got to be considered a threat [to Microsoft]."

Battelle also asked Schmidt about Google's proposed $3.1bn acquisition of online display ad company DoubleClick, announced on Friday. Google co-founder Sergey Brin used to deride DoubleClick ads as "gaudy" and not targeted, and asserted that Google would never offer "punch-the-monkey"-type ads, Battelle said. "What's changed in three years?" he asked Schmidt.

"DoubleClick has changed," Schmidt said. Their ads now are more targeted and they have better tools for advertisers and publishers, he added.

Battelle had other questions related to the merger: will Google spin out DoubleClick's Performics unit, which focuses on search optimisation? The answer: "We don't know yet." And what does Google plan to do with the third-party application created for the Google Pack software suite that deletes DoubleClick cookies? "We actually think it's a pretty good application, so we'll figure it out," Schmidt said.

Asked to comment on calls by Microsoft and AT&T for regulators to scrutinise the Google-DoubleClick merger for antitrust issues, Schmidt said: "They're wrong... It's false... Advertising is about a trillion-dollar business and this is one percent of that."

Asked about the Viacom lawsuit from March, alleging that Google's YouTube hosts unlicensed material, Schmidt said Google complied with the copyrighted content take-down orders. "We fully complied with the law," he said.