The technological rivalry between Microsoft and Google Inc has entered a new forum—website publishing. While Microsoft has SharePoint, a hardware and software program businesses buy and maintain, Google is launching Google Sites a

s its free, user-friendly competitor. Companies and schools will be able to easily create, edit, and maintain personalized websites wherever there is an internet connection, an important feature SharePoint lacks, but the service is not as comprehensive as that of Microsoft.   Targeted at the business and educational market, Google Sites is a simplified version of SharePoint, scaled down in size and cost. It is designed for people in the same company or classroom to easily share digital information without the need for tech-savvy geniuses. Users are able to search and edit information on the website by invitation only, and the service is free or carries a small per-user fee depending on whether the organization has purchased a fuller version of Google Apps. It means that “IT (Information Technology) departments don’t have to do anything except enable users to serve themselves,” says Dave Girouard, general manager of Google’s Enterprise unit.   Google Sites is the newest product the company has employed to challenge Microsoft’s dominance in software sales. Over the last two years, Google Inc. has introduced free word processing, spreadsheet, and calendaring programs to rival those of Microsoft. Such programs have compelled Microsoft to bid on Yahoo Inc., Google’s biggest online search and advertising rival.   Though easy to use, Google Sites still lacks management features to control poorly maintained or out-of-date websites. Nonetheless, it is attractive to the average consumer or business looking to share information, pictures, or video within a closed network…and free is always a good thing.   Danny Scuderi L’Atelier   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at