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Google Docs to get 'shiny new' interface

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Mountain View has the builders in over at Google Docs, where the company is working on a new interface for the online office app.

While the work is taking place, Google is warning users that ongoing tweaks might be noticeable during the “next few weeks” while it applies the facelift to Docs.

It’s hardly surprising to see Google spin out an announcement about changes to its web-based Microsoft Word and Excel rival, especially given all the noise coming out of the Redmond camp in the past week about its own set of online office apps.

Office 2010 was released for testing on Monday, but a technical preview of its web-based brother, which will be made freely available to individuals and organisations, hasn’t landed yet.

Despite that, a pushy Google is keen to make a play into the Office arena, where Microsoft sits pretty with a huge 90 per cent chunk of the global market share.

So what can Docs users expect to see change in the coming weeks?

Google plans to remove the “Shared with…” list in the left hand pane - it’s effectively redundant as Search offers the same functionality, explained the firm’s Docs product manager Vijay Bangaru. The app will also soon come with a new Sharing Menu.

“We feel this is a big improvement over the old one; we've moved all the sharing functionality into this one dialog, so now you can completely manage sharing without having to leave the Docs list,” said Bangaru. Additionally, the web kingpin has added a few “search operators” to Docs.

But hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen: Those minor changes will be “followed shortly by the new interface and a number of pretty exciting features we have in the pipe,” he added.

Google, just like with its Chrome OS plans, isn’t revealing anything more about what we can expect from a "shiny new" Docs interface. Our money's on a Chrome Docs coming soon to a screen near you. ®

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