Google Spreadsheets — is it ‘good enough’?

Paul Ballad and I had an interesting debate not so long ago about Smart Client vs. Browser based applications.

Google’s beta release of Google Spreadsheets is interesting as it relates to this discussion.

Will a browser based version of a spreadsheet tool be as good as Microsoft’s Excel? No, but the real question is: can it be good enough?

Think about it. Word, Excel, Outlook, etc. are all great applications – but how much of the functionality do you really use? 10 or 15 percent? I use Excel almost every day, but mainly for creating lists and as a simple database. The most complex calculations are usually sums and averages.

Tools such as web based email clients (Hotmail, GMail, etc.) are popular for just that reason; they are good enough, simple to use, and work anywhere. Google’s new spreadsheet offering may just be ‘good enough’ for a lot of people that use Excel for simple tasks and also quickly solves the problem of sharing an Excel spreadsheet.