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Global search merchant Google is contemplating hiring engineers to help build OpenOffice applications.

Google's manager for open-source programs Chris DiBona told news.com: "We want to hire a couple of people to help make OpenOffice better."

With these innocent, careless words DiBona started another snowstorm of speculation that Google was all set to attack Microsoft's Office suite.

He told news.com Google staff could help reduce the download size of OpenOffice. But according to this story on eweek Google employees have already helped reduce download sizes.

The web's favourite rumour last leapt to life before a Google Sun announcement in early October. Google-watchers began frenzied speculation that the search giant was set to offer a complete office suite which would destroy Microsoft in moments. They were deeply disappointed when Google-Sun said they were working on a tool bar.

For its part Google has been quite clear that it is not interested in fighting old battles with Microsoft. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company had no plans, adding, "I don't really think that the thing is to take a previous generation and port them directly." He said distributed web applications can do the job of Office better.

At this stage it is more important for Microsoft to sort out its services than it is for service companies like Google to try and get into desktop applications or even operating systems.

Google uses a fair amount of open source software inhouse. Its main search service runs on Linux along with mySQL database software and developers use the Python programming language.

News.com story is here and searchenginewatch is here.®

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