ONLINE COLLABORATION

Small businesses that don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for Microsoft’s Exchange Server and tech support can get some of that service for free from Google.com.

It’s called Google Documents and Spreadsheets, and you get there by going to Google.com/accounts. Then sign in, or sign up and click on the “documents and spreadsheets” link. Click “more” and a long list of special features and products appears. One of these is “docs and spreadsheets.” You can then collaborate with anyone else you invite to join.

You can upload a spreadsheet or document, and all the familiar formats are supported. Collaborating on spreadsheets has a few extra features: A chat window appears off to one side of the spreadsheet, and you can type things like “Let’s fix the error on line 3” or just chat about anything you want. You can also call up formulas for use with spreadsheets and do formatting changes.

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