Google is stepping up its battle to rival Microsoft's Office software by issuing a test release of a new Google Spreadsheet product.

The spreadsheet tool is the next logical step in Google's office software development, as the company has already bought and started working on Writely, an online word processing program.

At the moment, the spreadsheet program can't create graphs, but it can organise, store, and share information quickly and easily over the web. It imports and exports from .xls and .cvs files, and features multiple sheets.

The data is stored on Google's servers, and protected from prying eyes, although concerns have been raised about the reliability of the data storage after some users of Gmail lost information shortly after the email service was launched.

The advantage to using the online spreadsheet tool is that users can quickly access the spreadsheets and edit them without the need to download. As one user creates a new spreadsheet, he can share by simply messaging his contact and inviting him to view the document. Multiple users can edit the spreadsheet simultaneously, and can keep track of each other through the on-screen chat window.

The tool features over 200 functions and formulas for completing basic calculations and spreadsheet tasks.

Follow this link to sign up for an invitation to try out the new tool: http://www.google.com/googlespreadsheets/try_out.html