Google Docs is now available offline to a select few with wider offerings expected to followHow could Google Docs and Spreadsheets get any better? Well, Google, with yet another shot-over-the-bow at Microsoft, is letting users of its Internet-based word-processing program access their documents offline. A desktop version of Google Docs, now available to a small number of select users, will be rolled out more broadly over the next few weeks, the Mountain View company said Tuesday in a blog posting.

Google’s plan for offline access is offered only in English for now, the company is working on other languages. Google is upgrading its Web-based programs in an effort to take customers from Microsoft, which dominates the personal-computer software market. With offline access, Google Docs customers can use the Internet-based program and automatically save their work to a PC, so it’s available on airplanes and other places where they can’t connect to the Web. Offline access could be the tipping point in Google’s attack on Microsoft.

Tell me again why I need to buy software in a box?