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Google adds 'Presentation' to its Apps suit

Internet search giant Google on Tuesday announced its plans to roll out web-based Presentation software similar to Microsoft Corp.'s popular PowerPoint program, apparently boosting its move to challenge software giant with whom Google is battling for dominance in the Web-based software market.

Presentations, the Web based alternative to MS PowerPoint, would join Google Docs and Spreadsheets recently added in the company's growing suite of web-based applications that perform the same basic features as Microsoft Office.

The online suite of software, dubbed Google Apps, which already includes Web-based programs like e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets and calendar management, soon would allow users to create presentations, much like Microsoft's PowerPoint.

Mountain View-based Google, which already has started providing e-mail, word processing and spreadsheet programs to compete with Redmond-based Microsoft, is now planning new Presentation software that may become a potential replacement for Microsoft's ubiquitous PowerPoint software that is part of software giant’s widely-used Office suite.

Describing the ‘Presentations’ software yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco Google Chairman and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that the application will allow users to create and share business presentations over the web. Schmidt used a beta version of this new app to present his presentation slides.

Schmidt didn’t provide more details about the presentation software or its capabilities but said that much of the software for the new service will be based on the technology developed by Tonic System, which is based in Melbourne, Australia and San Francisco.

Recently acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum, Tonic makes Java-based presentation and document management software.

Google’s 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’s latest Presentations software is, though, seen by the analysts as a direct competitor of MS Powerpoint, but Schmidt denied that the online tools are aimed at luring people away from Microsoft, clarifying further that the two products are not competing.

"We believe we can bring presentations to a new level of user satisfaction," Schmidt said. "We don't think it competes with Microsoft, because it doesn't have all the functionality of Office. It's a different way of sharing information, more casual, and a better fit to how people use the Web."

Expected to be available this summer, the Presentation software will come in two versions, of which “Premier” version with extra storage would retail for $50 per year.

The presentation program is part of Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which the company has added to the new version of the Google's Web-based software, dubbed Google Apps Premier Edition (PE) this year in February.

Besides the Web-based programs like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk instant messaging, Google Docs & Spreadsheets and the Google customizable Start Page feature, the PE suit now contains Presentation software as well. Gmail and Calendar are increasingly being used as an alternative to Microsoft Outlook.

Google shares slipped $1.47 to close Tuesday at $472.80 on the NASDAQ Stock Market, while Microsoft shares jumped 12 cents to $28.85.