Google is finalising the integration of ‘Docs & Spreadsheets’ with Google Apps for Your Domain, another step in its strategy to build a suite of hosted applications for organisations.

The introduction of the new version of Google Apps for Your Domain including Docs & Spreadsheets will happen this quarter, and it could come as early as next week, several people familiar with the company's plans have said.

It has been widely assumed that at some point Google would add Docs & Spreadsheets, a word processing and a spreadsheet programme, to Google Apps, a suite of communication services for organisations. Docs & Spreadsheets lets multiple users share files and collaborate on them.

Google Apps provides white-label versions of several Google communication services, including the Gmail web mail service, the Talk instant message and voice chat service and the Calendar online scheduling service. Organisations can provide these services with their own internet domain and branding to their users.

Google Apps is free but Google also plans to introduce a more sophisticated, fee-based version for large organisations.

Google Apps and Docs & Spreadsheets have been parallel projects in Google's attempt to enter the hosted applications market and expand beyond its core search engine business. Many see Google gearing up to compete against Microsoft's PC-based Office applications suite.

Proponents of hosted applications say they are more convenient than the PC-based, packaged software upon which Microsoft has built its empire. Hosted applications are housed in vendor servers, freeing customers' IT departments from installation and maintenance work, and from having to purchase extra hardware and storage, proponents say.

Google has other hosted applications for organisations, including Google Analytics, a hosted service for tracking website usage and traffic. The company also has a wiki platform that it acquired when it bought JotSpot last year. It has been rumoured that Google also has a presentations application in development.

Google declined to comment on this story.