Google has added a major update to its online spreadsheet program, Sheets, to include the ability to create and edit spreadsheets offline.

Sheets, part of Google's Apps suite, has stood in the shadow of Microsoft Excel since its release. It has been hard pressed to measure up to one of the pillars of Microsoft's vastly successful Office package.

Google has been working on making alternatives to Microsoft's flagships for some time, introducing programs 'Docs' in 2007 and 'Slides' in 2010. However its spreadsheet alternative still doesn't get recognition.

It has been criticised before for its slow speed, online-only setting and inferior import options, especially when users attempt import from Excel. However, it can be credited for Microsoft's launch of Office 365.

What users asked for

The reliability of imported files has now been tweaked with bug fixes and optimisation. The update has also made Sheets faster, especially when working with large and complex spreadsheets.

A new filter view feature lets users create peeks at sections of a Sheet for their use only, even if it is shared. On top of this the help-system for entering formula has been given more fluidity.

The update has also removed size limits (spreadsheets can now have up to two million cells) and, perhaps most crucially, added the ability to create and edit Sheets offline.

This feature had already been present in Docs and Slides, Google's other Office alternatives, and had been what many users were asking for. It may still be lacking when compared to Excel, but for basic spreadsheet use, Google seems to have taken a step in the right direction.

Microsoft has been attacking Google's Chromebooks and software recently with the argument that they don't offer any offline capabilities. The update probably won't stop Microsoft's campaign, but will take some of the sting out of the punches.