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Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Docs is finally growing up. The Big G this week added pagination and native printing to its Web-based word-processing software in a serious bid to rival Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Word.

We can't call this a disruptive innovation. Not yet, anyway. Mr. Softy's Office installed base is so huge that Google would have to reinvent the way we think of productivity software in order to make a serious dent. And yet dismissing this as a mere feature upgrade would also be a mistake. In beefing up Docs, Google has added heft to its Apps suite and proven that the Chrome browser can host great software as well as any computing operating system.

But don't take my word for it. Look at the software that exists inside the Chrome Web Store. At present, there are more than 3,700 apps and 10,800 extensions categorized by Google. Those are extraordinary numbers.

Give Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) partial credit for the rise of browser-based apps. Why? Browser-based software stresses processors by constantly firing off scripts that request data from remote servers. Run enough scripts in real time, and you'll soon find your laptop scorching your lap. Unless, that is, you're using a PC based on a newer multi-core chipset designed to consume less power. Intel's Sandy Bridge and AMD's Fusion come to mind.

In some ways, the rise of browser-based apps that can deliver data in real time is not so different from the rise of gaming apps that render extraordinary amounts of data each second. This is why we're seeing Chrome and Internet Explorer, among others, embedding code that directly accesses graphics processors at the system level.

Indeed, the processing horsepower required for gaming has led to big innovations in power management in the ARM architecture. NVIDIA's (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) advancements in this area have made it an attractive partner for Android tablet makers, whose systems will feature both processor-intensive native and browser-based apps.

So while it's nice to see Google Docs get beefier, Chrome can and will handle a lot more. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about the browser wars, browser-based apps, and the cloud-driven chip innovations using the comments box below.

The Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature that allows users to stay ahead of the curve and receive up to date news on companies like Google, or any of its competitors. To get up-to-date Google news and analysis, add the company to your watchlist today.

Google, Intel, and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is also a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended members create diagonal call positions in Intel and Microsoft. Motley Fool Alpha LLC owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, and Microsoft and has purchased Intel calls. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy operates within the system. Usually.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2011, at 4:16 PM, techy46 wrote:

    The Big Google this week added pagination and native printing to its Web-based word-processing software in a serious bid to rival Microsoft's Word.

    Ha, ha, he, he you got to be kidding, finally grown up. Maybe if your using Microsoft Notepad. What a rediculous article. Chrome OS? It's Linux running a Web browser you FOOLS.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2011, at 4:40 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>Chrome OS? It's Linux running a Web browser you FOOLS.

    And your point is? I don't mean this to mock, but shouldn't that very statement scare the crap out of you if you're a Microsoft shareholder? Look at what Google is doing with Linux, JavaScript, and HTML5.

    Let's be clear: Browsers are nowhere near capable of replacing Windows or the Mac OS. But the rising bounty of browser-driven apps should tell you a lot about where developers think the money is.

    FWIW and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2011, at 4:55 PM, Borbality wrote:

    I have a Chrome OS beta laptop and like it quite a bit (It helps when it's a free). Between this and my regular windows PC I am all set, but then everyone keeps saying PCs and netbooks are dead. I am not the norm I guess since I don't have or want a smartphone as long as the data plans are so expensive. The Chrome came with two years of free 3G, although only 100MB per month. This is enough to get me by since I work in an office.

    It IS just a browser, but that's sort of the beauty of it. You just open it up and you're online. It shuts down and starts up nearly instantly and has a real keyboard.

    I don't like having to piddle around with my wife's Windows 7 netbook. If I need to do real computing I go on the PC in my room. For everything else I love the Chrome, although it could use a little work, like being able to access your home network's shared folders. I guess that's what apps are for though.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2011, at 10:10 PM, dpcwollmann wrote:

    I just have to say, I love my little Cr-48. Unlike my George Foreman Dell Lap Grill ("Is someone cooking bacon?" "No, honey, your Father is using his Dell laptop again."), it's a real laptop machine, and the light weight and 8 hour battery life make it a really handy tool. As a bonus, if some brownshirt bonehead from Der Fuhrer's Fatherland Protection Agency decides to confiscate it as he checks my papers and gives me a complimentary anal exam at the airport, I can chuck the Cr-48 and walk away without worrying about data loss: it's all on the cloud.

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