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Google Docs Introduces More Student-Friendly Features -- Adds Support For Equations

As the two tech rivals -- Google and Microsoft are contending to prove their supremacy in technology, search engine leader Google rolled out some nifty updates to Google Docs today, which is associated with Google Apps' productivity suite, by adding a few student-friendly features. The document collaboration tool now supports equation notation, superscript, subscript, and language translations.

The two tech giants are competing over a $7.25-million contract to replace L.A.'s outdated e-mail system. Google has been aggressively promoting its Google Apps to schools, recently introduced a centralized site designed to recruit universities and colleges. The benefits are so much high enough that both companies have fielded teams of lobbyists and executives to press their case in City Hall.

City officials have also been informed that Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Google CEO Eric Schmidt “would be more than happy to come and visit with you,” said City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who chairs the council's information and technology committee.

First, let us take a look at our favorite new addition to Google Docs: equations. Google Docs has introduced an equation editor that empowers students to actually solve their math problems within a document, allowing students to not only write papers that include numbers and equations but also take notes from quantitative classes using Google Docs. The feature, available under the “Insert” menu, enables a student to type in full, clean equations for everything from your standard high school physics to mutli-variable calculus. Google Docs also highlighted its addition of subscript and superscript formatting so that you can add in simple exponents and label variables.

Google Docs Introduces More Student-Friendly Features -- Adds Support For Equations
is quite easy to see why this added attribute could be of huge benefit for students. As Google is attempting to make Docs more appealing to those humanities majors out there by allowing users to select from various bulleting styles for creating outlines and giving students ability to print footnotes as endnotes for term papers, and in addition to that, a group of friends could collaborate making sure that they do not miss any of the important lecture notes. Equations in Google Docs are also simply cleaner to look at. If you have ever tried to read someone else's calculus notes, you can not help but appreciate clean equations.

While none of these features is groundbreaking on its own, nevertheless, Google is presenting a threat with its Google Apps office software, which is anchored by its popular Gmail service, which collectively support many of the Google's productivity suite, fulfilling some specific needs that probably prevented some from using the service. Thousands of colleges, including USC and Notre Dame, and nearly 2 million businesses have adopted Google Apps, the company says.

Google also highlighted Google Docs integration with language translation, something they added last month. Finally, they added some customization to bullet styles and added the ability to print footnotes as endnotes.

As the battle continues in delivering executive suites and information technology departments around the U.S., the results could determine whether businesses are in favor of storing software and data on their own computers, as most do now, or allow companies such as Google to store it all online in the so-called digital cloud.

“This is a story of two very large companies going head to head in a battle for the future of the heart and soul of the technology world,” said David B. Yoffie, a dean and professor of business strategy at the Harvard Business School. “If Google wins, the way that we look at our day-to-day computing will be 100% focused on the cloud.”

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