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I think it's pretty cool! ;)

IN A MOVE THAT GIVES consumers another reason to use Google for more than just Web searches, the company Tuesday released a spreadsheet program into a closed beta test. The new Google application not only allows users to post data to a Web-based spreadsheet, but also enables users to share the data with each other online, and to chat using Google Talk while editing the document. Users can then save the edits to a Google-hosted spreadsheet, or export them into an Excel format. Users can also upload spreadsheets in the Excel format to Google Spreadsheets, and have them converted.

The move, which clearly offers at least some competition to Microsoft's Excel program, also appears to reflect a broader Google strategy of convincing consumers to post data online.

Search expert Greg Sterling said the move reflects "a broader vision of utility." Google, he said, is "offering a suite of services that spans your own private data and public information online."

For now, the program doesn't carry any ads, but Google may be planning to monetize the spreadsheet program in the future. Google has previously released many products without an ad component--including Google Desktop, Gmail, and Google Earth--and later placed ads against them.

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