24 November 2007

The whole 'online office' thing

Sometime between yesterday and today, Sabeer Bhatia (creator of Hotmail) released Live Documents; a service exclusively for Microsoft Office, which allows you to do all the things you can with Google’s and Zoho’s applications, but now with Office. Personally, I feel like this is the tagging thing all over again!

We already have enough players in the ‘office on the web’ market, and very frankly, I don’t think the user count of the existing one’s is good enough for one more to popup. I know people prefer to stick to the desktop versions, simply because they’ve grown used to it, and most of the time they’re on the move and hence not connected. People who use office applications at a high frequency are mostly executives. I’ve yet to meet an executive who lives outside of Outlook, and by default, Microsoft Office. If you’re on a Mac, it has to be iWorkOr by the looks of it, Office 2008 for the Mac. In both cases, you’re offline because it’s faster and you have many more features than a web counterpart.

But most importantly, there is nothing new that these services have to offer, except for the technology they use, which only increases their speed and to a very small degree, what they can do. Google brought in AJAX, and Live Documents is bringing in Flex.

Same goes with Google Documents. I was happy when Writely was Writely. Ever since the change to Google Documents, it just looks and feels so bland. It’s useful for finishing English assignments because friends can get together and collaborate, but I honestly don’t see real world uses of these features. I haven’t even touched Zoho ...

It'd do us all good if we got more consumable services which have scope to grow. But as of now, I’m not even bothering applying for an invitation. Let’s see if I’m wrong on this ....


3 comments

Avatar said...

i am very interested in the developments of the online Office suite so i have tried pretty much every single option.

in terms of features and use Zoho wins out easily, in terms of design and approach? i think Buzzword made in flex and recently bought by adobe does shows what and how Live documents could work.

Google Docs is the weakest from the top 3 examples. i am really surprised that Google didn`t bought Zoho already, but maybe the fact that they would have to pay a 10x valuation price of zoho (1-1.5billion) could be a deterrent when they already have invested over 3 billions developing the google docs suite the past 2 years along everything they have expended overall.

MS knows what they are doing, the office live marketplace. i remember the early concepts of what the live desk was going to be so i get an idea of where they are going with it.

and they are working on sharedview/foldershare integrations for it and having it running on a sharepoint server, already give some food for thought.

I see Live Documents as a Frontal Offer to MS, they are doing too many "in your Face" things so Microsoft cannot ignore them and either decides sue them or buy them.

I think they got a good chance of getting bought, it is always a gamble.

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now on a online office actually working out? it will but not now.

You need 5 factors for that happen:

1.-cheap powerful portable devices
2.-cheap/free and fast global internet access
3.-a great and easy to work with software tech evolved enough to do the job cross platform and cross medium
4.-actual cloud computing
5.-Huge Data centers that can provide the unlimited bandwith and storage power.

We don`t got any of those points covered in a global scale..

so i think we will not start seeing it really work out until 2010

Aditya said...

2010? That's being 'very' optimistic! You really think any of those five points (except for 1 and 3) will come to exist in a way which is usable? I really doubt it, but let's see.

As far as being bought, Sabeer Bhatia knows his game pretty well. He has dealt with Microsoft before. If you read his account of the Hotmail sale, you'll see that he had it all planned out.

I think he's taking the same approach. Going after the thing Microsoft lacks. The best way at the moment to get their attention would be to 'be' in their face. Microsoft won't sue them unless they're confident about their 'own' product.

This should be fun ;)

Avatar said...

yes, 2010 should be more than enough for when we start seeing this going truly mainstream and working well.

On Sabeer, yeah, he want to make lightning strike a second time.

lets see what happens.