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Will online office applications help me do more?

by Tris Hussey on June 25th, 2007

On Friday Read/Write Web did a review of the web office apps specifically with students in mind, I also saw via Lifehacker some really cool “hidden” features of Google Spreadsheets and these articles got me to wonder if online office apps can really help most folks in their day-to-day work.

Read/Write Web did a web office app shootout earlier last week, which didn’t really get to the meat of the question, ya so should I bother?

No, not yet.  Having tried both Google Apps and Zoho, I think I have a good sense of the general field. I’ve also played with Intranets.com and easing into Foldera as well (Yes, I know they aren’t web office suites).

There are two reasons why I say “not yet”.  One is the practicality of getting people to switch from a locally installed version of Office to an online one.  What, are you going to uninstall MS Office from their machines?  Office is right there.  To use Google or Zoho you have to launch IE or Firefox then get into their apps.  This is a big change.  Then here is a usability factor.  I haven’t found a solid app that offers a central hub for everything.

Zoho, IMHO, really loses on the integration factor.  I’m not talking about the Office plugin, I’m talking about the fact that Zoho treats each of their apps as a discrete app, not as part of a suite within a browser.  There just isn’t a great way to have a central view of all of the applications.  Google does this much better, not great, but better.

The second part is that in all practicality having your stuff on a server somewhere isn’t great if you’re on the road, use a laptop, or the Internet ever get congested (and we know that never happens).  I’ve tried sharing notes online, docs online, collaborating on spreadsheets, and with a range of user levels.  Same thing always happened, we switched back to local files e-mailed back and for or e-mailed notes.

Notice I did say “yet”, I fully expect there to be better and better web office suites in the next year and I expect that I’ll start using one of them.  However, I also wonder if pushing the web office boundaries might cause a resurgence of P2P.  Maybe it would be better to just have a little relay that let you share and work on apps both locally and virtually.

For the time being though, I’m sticking with MS Office 2007, Evernote, and MindManager 7 Pro.

POSTED IN: Web 2.0, Cool tools, Internet tips

3 opinions for Will online office applications help me do more?

  • Brian
    Jun 26, 2020 at 8:57 am

    I have written about Web 2.0 applications on my web site and have done a lot of work with mind mapping and graphic organizers throghout the years. I do a lot of work with students with writing and reading disabilities and think that having applications avaialble to them 24/7 through the browser is a real paradigm shift. I believe that the future of software development is through the broswer and via small specialized applications that can run on USB thumb drives or even on SmartPhones.

  • Tris Hussey
    Jun 26, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Brian, I checked out your site and I agree about mind-mapping and such. I think the future of applications will be online, but it will be when our connectivity more powerful and ubiquitous. Also it will be a time when the “OS” and “browser” are arcane terms

  • More Merchant
    Jun 27, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    I agree. I have used Google docs and I like them, but always default back to what I have on my computer.

    I look forward to the day that I can switch my entire office over to something like Google docs, but until then Microsoft Office it is.

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