Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Web 2.0: Web Office Suites

Richard MacManus founder and editor of the Read/WriteWeb (Aside: Web 2.0 has also been referred to as the Read/Write Web) blog has a great article comparing the major web-based office suites. A defining criterion for being considered an office suite is inclusion of traditional office apps: email, calendar, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Interestingly, small players Zoho and Zimbra have the most complete offerings.

Zoho, in particular has a pretty extensive list of offerings - listen to the first interview below to learn how having a number of small web-based apps speeds up the development process when compared to a large monolithic desktop office suite. ThinkFree has the core office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), but no Calendar or Email, but is one of the few to offer some offline capabilities and a portable version.

Google is missing applications for online presentations and meetings, but has made some recent acquisitions that should fill these holes. Surprisingly - maybe - Microsoft is the farthest behind, although McManus seems to think that Microsoft will never offer a fully online suite, instead opting for a desktop/online hybrid to try and protect one of their cash cows. Lastly, the current market "leaders" Zoho and Google and their numerous web-based offerings are compared.

I think many miss the power and potential of these online office suites. Some see these as free or low-cost alternatives to Microsoft Office, but where these online suites will really we disruptive is in empowering unprecedented mass collaboration. As Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu and Evangelist Raju Vegesna say - collaboration is the killer app!

For more info about Zoho and ThinkFree watch these interviews from Robert Scoble's ScobleShow
For more on Google Docs and Spreadsheets, read a previous blog posting
and listen to a couple of podcasts I recorded with Gordon Snyder:

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