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Beware Microsoft; Google Docs is now available offline

Google's Apps are now inching towards Microsoft's popular Office by offering a much requested feature; the ability to save Google Docs files locally (in a hard drive or a USB stick).

By launching Google Gears support for Apps, Google will allow users to temporarily store documents changes on their computer until they are reconnected to the internet which is when the changes will be made.

If more than one person is editing the document, edits will be highlighted to the editors via a dialog box.

Gears itself is an open source platform JavaScript-based application programming interface (API) which permits online applications to work offline.

You cannot create new documents though; this, along with other features, will be rolled out gradually to Google Docs and other components like Spreadsheet and Presentation.

A Google spokesman said in a statement : "This is still early days. We're working to make more Web applications and functions work where connections are unavailable".

Like all synchronisations, the initial process could take some time especially when if there are several large files; the subsequent changes being incremental, will take less time.

Eventually, all Google services could one day support Gear and with some lobbying, Gears could become an integral part of browsers, effectively converting the humble web browser into a fully-fledged working environment.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.