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Office Tools On The Web 153

ReadWriteWeb writes "What will be the primary elements of an Office Suite for the Web be? Who among the big or small companies is currently providing the best examples? ZDNet's Richard MacManus reviews the contenders for collaborative Web Office tools. Some of these products may well be acquisition targets this year for Microsoft and Google, as it is anticipated that both companies will release fully functional Web Office Suites sometime in the next few years."
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Office Tools On The Web

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  • Am I behind? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:50PM (#14771460)
    Because I haven't heard of any of these things. Seems like if you want to contend with MS Office, you're going to need to get more notariety.
    • I'd say more like (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you want to contend with MS Office, you need an interface which runs at full speed as if it were a normal program on a modern computer*, and which doesn't magically disappear when (1) you accidentally close a tab or (2) some rogue flash app crashes the browser.

      Anyone else remember WordPerfect for Java?

      * No, AJAX is *NOT* good enough. It's fine for email. It's not good enough for anything else.
      • * No, AJAX is *NOT* good enough. It's fine for email. It's not good enough for anything else.

        AJAX/DHTML is good enough. It's the programmers that aren't. Most of these "Web Office" products are really nothing more than beautified HTML Editor components disguised as something we haven't seen before. The types of features that make a Word Processor a real Word Processor are missing because no one else has done the work for them. Not to mention the lack of spreadsheets, presentation software, and database inte
        • I find it completely insane that people consider Firefox, a browser where memory leaks are classified as "features," [mozillazine.org] to be a viable application deployment platform. A web browser is only as strong as its weakest open window. The vast majority of browsers-with-no-extensions-installed have no protection against crashes at all. The only cure to this problem is auto-saving of documents.

          Linux, Mac OS X, and even recent Windows releases are actually quite stable if you use good drivers. Why tie an important a
          • Why tie an important application to the weakest link in any system (the network) and a foundation that was clearly not made to handle such demands (a web browser)?

            1. Because tying your applications to the network affords a great number of features that can't exist (or exist poorly) in disparate systems. Such features include: centralized storage, powerful document search engines, automatic document sharing, application availability from any location, and protection against massive data loss through the fail
              • If the net is available, but down, you can't work.
              • If the net is unavailable (train, plane, submarine, cabin in the woods, spacecraft, mountain climbing, cave research, day trip in your car), you can't work.
              • If the app provider goes away, your documents are trash, because you never had the app. Assuming you weren't foolish enough to allow your documents to be maintained remotely, in which case they aren't trash, they're simply gone.
              • And of course, for larger documents, the speed of the connection is
          • I find it completely insane that in your criticism of Firefox's so-called memory leak you actually link to the page that explains why it's not a memory leak. Set browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers to something other than -1 and less than 8 and the number of pages cached will decrease - if you have a gig of memory. With 512MB, you have to set it to less than 5 to make a difference, and so on - which is all explained in your very own link.

            Why tie an important application to the weakest link in any

          • Most document editors have an Autosave feature that saves open documents every couple minutes or so to protect against system failures. An AJAX application can save as often as every keystroke if you like, or to combat bandwidth concerns every other sentence would be perfectly fine. The only "instability" you've pointed to is the aggressive memory allocation system in Firefox, that you can turn off if your browsing habits are different than most people. Storing a back/forward page cache doesn't make the pla
        • by abes ( 82351 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @07:01PM (#14772136) Homepage
          I have to completely and utterly disagree with you. Web pages are not the best place for web apps, nor will they ever be. And why should they? Web pages were meant for displaying originally static text. The fact that it can be made dynamic, is an add-on, rather than a thought out plan. AJAX/DHTML come off more as a kludge than anything else.

          You want systems that were made for complex user interface tasks? Try .net, Cocoa, GTK, or QT. There's a lot of work put in to those libraries. Unless you think those libraries are all fluff, then I'm not sure how you get from href's and text to something as complex as an office suite. And it is complex. If it weren't, M$ office wouldn't have the hold it does.

          If you want a simple text editor that can do minimal tasks, sure, web interfaces are *okay*. But compare that to something like abiword, which is still free (or openoffice, if you want), and they *still* can't compare.

          Why even try to do a web office suite? To make it cross platformable? Once again, abiword and openoffice have this covered. Remember, the internet consists of more than just webpages. There's lot of ways of transporting data. If you want something that can run anywhere, a solid crossplatform library should be used. QT and GTK are two good examples of this.
          • Do me a favor, will you? Go to this link [funnygames.nl] and click on the word "Lemmings" to the right of the picture. This should pop up a game window of Lemmings. Once you've played for a few minutes to get a feel for it, try to figure out what technologies it uses. When you think you know, come back here and we'll discuss your answers and how possible a full Office Suite is in DHTML/AJAX.
            • What, you mean a multi-gigahertz monster can perform a similar task to my 8MHz, half-megabyte Atari ST of years gone by?

              Wait, I know - let's try some basic page layout tasks like drawing lines and ellipses [walterzorn.com]. My Atari ST could manage that (it could also do full WYSIWYG with TrueType fonts rotated to arbitrary angles, bezier curves and assorted other vector type stuff) - it's a bit harder in DHTML/AJAX without SVG, which is admittedly very promising but still a bit ... experimental.

              DHTML/AJAX might have bright
              • it's a bit harder in DHTML/AJAX without SVG

                Why do you think I (and others) have been screaming for SVG? It's the final piece of the puzzle that will allow us to get rid of the last kludge in the stack. (i.e. Server generated images.) With Opera and Mozilla working to make SVG a required part of the browser, the future looks very bright indeed. :-)
      • Anyone else remember the whole "Network Computer" concept of having a stripped-down machine that accessed applications and documents from a central server? This strikes me as somewhat similar in intent, the idea to have your PC do less and a server on the other end do more. And if the network computer concept is any indication, it's going to be equally doomed to failure.
      • See http://www.writely.com/ [writely.com].

        Fast. Efficient. Saves regularly. Beta, but mostly solid and constantly improving.
    • That's OK (Score:1, Redundant)

      by temojen ( 678985 )
      The companies that make them are the only people who think storing your data on someone else's server is a good idea.
    • Re:Am I behind? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Now that you have heard of it, go show somebody else. It's the only way for tools without a huge marketing budget to get well-known. Don't all these new technologies trickle down to the majority of people through technophiles like the /. community anyway?
      • Oh, I'll definitely check them out now that I have heard of them. I guess I just think it's a bit early in the game to be shouting the praises of web office tools as though they're going to take over the business market this year.

        Maybe I'll end up eating my hat on that last statement, but there you have it.
        • Re:Am I behind? (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In all probability, they're not going to take over the business market this year, but I don't think that's a flaw of the tools themselves. Nobody's been able to unseat Microsoft, even with superior software. But if we don't start talking about all this new technology it'll never have a chance. Make it well known and if enough people think it's worth it to switch over from MS Office then they will. If nobody knows about it it doesn't matter how good it is. It'll never get off the ground.
    • > Because I haven't heard of any of these things. Seems like if you want to contend with MS Office, you're going to need to get more notariety.

      It looks like you are trying to contend with MS Office. Would you like some notoriety?

      • Sell your company to Microsoft?
      • Sell your company to Google?
      • Throw a chair?
      • Email a copy of hello.jpg to a venture capital firm, and don't show me this tip again.
    • Are you behind? Perhaps.

      Just one word: wikicalc

    • Looking at your user id I'd say you are behind.

      (Not that mine is that low either, just pointing that out)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:51PM (#14771474)
    Microsofts product will be bloated, proprietary, and prone to crashes for years.

    Googles product will be minimalist, open, and in beta for years.
  • Oh Please! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:53PM (#14771498) Homepage
    Let's check the facts:

    Microsoft has a VERY large and very well-developed office suite that connects quite elegantly to a bunch of Microsoft's back office software.

    So these start-ups are going to usurp that somehow?

    Also, some people love to lease cars, but when it comes to software, I don't see it happening so much.

    What they may do is fill some very small gap.

    • What they may do is fill some very small gap.

      Depends on what Microsoft's strategy is at the time. We are talking "a few years down the road" right? Perhaps MSFT goes for all online with a subscription based model (not all that different from their licenses now -- just more profitable for them because it removes some of the Warezing capabilities) and people get pissed off and want something else (either physical or free).

      I don't believe that there are any viable alternatives, for the business world, other
    • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:17PM (#14771723) Homepage Journal

      Web 2.0 business plan

      1. Rewrite native application in JavaScript
      2. ???
      3. Profit!
    • I partially agree with you. I think initially non-geek people are going to be very skeptical about using an online office suite. I can easily hear complaints like "my documents are stored where?" and "what if I'm not connected to the Internet, as in on a plane?". These objections can all easily be overcome, but not without some hacking and patching. The classic app of a laptop on a plane (and lets just ignore the wifi on some airlines for now) would require users to check out online documents to work offlin
      • Re:Oh Please! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kfg ( 145172 )
        "my documents are stored where?" and "what if I'm not connected to the Internet, as in on a plane?". These objections can all easily be overcome, but not without some hacking and patching.

        The fact that your data resides on a foreign server cannot be easily overcome with hacking and patching. It simply declares a field day for the SEC and the FBI, even with encryption.

        Why on earth should I "Pull a Tom Horn" and braid my own noose? Yes, online apps could prove a convenience, but Federal Pound me in the Ass Pr
    • Let's check some other facts: Most people still use Office 2000, many others still use Office 98. People are finally aware there is NO reason to upgrade, when at least 99% of users can do everything in the "latest" office suite as they did 15 years ago with Word and excel 95. People type letters and memos and simple spreadsheets, anything more - they have a business system to do it. I hope you are joking about people not wanting to "lease" software - this is becoming the industry standard for a BUNCH of sy
    • Microsoft has a VERY large and very well-developed office suite that connects quite elegantly to a bunch of Microsoft's back office software.

      not to mention the ungodly number of third-party apps that are designed to work with Office and share a common look and feel.

    • Let's check the facts:

      Microsoft has a VERY large and very well-developed office suite that connects quite elegantly to a bunch of Microsoft's back office software.

      What [these office suites] may do is fill some very small gap.

      You are assuming an enterprise-level point of view. That is only roughly half of business sales for Microsoft. A big segment, sure, but what of the other half, the small businesses, who don't have any back office kit to connect with? They don't fret over Exchange connectivity, bec

    • Let's check the facts:
      Microsoft has a VERY large and very well-developed office suite that connects quite elegantly to a bunch of Microsoft's back office software.
      So these start-ups are going to usurp that somehow?
      Also, some people love to lease cars, but when it comes to software, I don't see it happening so much.
      What they may do is fill some very small gap.

      Microsoft has shown us in the past that they feel they are such a monolithic application vendor that all they need to do to retain customer

  • Dark Fiber... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by creimer ( 824291 )
    Is this a Microsoft Office conspiracy to shove bandwidth-eating applications down the pipe to force companies to upgrade their networks and raise the price on all that unused dark fiber? Inquiring minds want to know!
  • by Johnso ( 520335 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:56PM (#14771524)
    I've mentioned them before, but I'm still impressed by the Avalon Management Suite by Avalon Business Systems [avalonbusiness.com].

    It's a web-based (AJAX?) management tool that my company uses to handle our scheduling, inventory, invoicing, CRM, etc. It's really slick, but useful (it reminds me a lot of GMail).

    Really, web services like Avalon, GMail, and Flickr are coming along nicely. It's a lot nicer to be able to access your data and tools from anywhere than it would be to have to install software on a dozen computers.

    • It's a lot nicer to be able to access your data and tools from anywhere than it would be to have to install software on a dozen computers.

      I'm sure it's great, but what does it offer that I can't get with a laptop?

      • Well, you don't have to carry a laptop. :)

        Really, the greatest thing we get out of it collaboration. There are a few solutions out there to bridge the virtual divide, but doing it with online software sure makes it easier.

        Another aspect is that it runs even when your computer isn't. We have automated tasks (like reminder e-mails) go out at certain times of the day and it's nice not to have to maintain servers or backups ourselves.Mp> Oh, one of the other nice things is that our clients and vendors

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:56PM (#14771537) Homepage
    What are the advantages of having an online Office Suite? I'd say that the disadvantages include: security issues, slow speed, dependance on internet connection, limited features, harder to program, and probably many others. What is the point?
    • Because Linux users don't have any decent office suites* and this would be a "cross-platform" solution**.

      * OpenOffice.org, a hugely-bloated fork of an old closed-source imitation of Microsoft Office, doesn't count.

      ** Assuming that your "valid" XHTML and scriptaculous JavaScript works equally well on all web browsers, which it won't, forcing you to make various forks of scripts.
      • Oh no you didn't.

        You do realize where you're posting this, right?? :)
    • I can think of a couple reasons:
      It's easy to roll out upgrades, people don't have to worry as much about backups (the tape drive will take care of that), you don't have to maintain hundreds of separately installed office suites, etc...

      I could see this being somewhat attractive to an administrator, but as a user it seems like a real pain in the ass.
      • That's all very well until they roll out an upgrade, without notice or without your having any control over it, that breaks your business's criticial documents.

        • but being web based there's a lot less chance of that happening. All the docs should be availiable for testing sample so QC should be easier too. Also, they can make smaller changes more often so breakage isn't as bad. Realize too, that the documents would probably be part of a database until you "printed" them to a file so they would auto-magically upgrade right along with the server.
          • Sorry, but that just doesn't have the ring of truth to it. There is a reason that every major corporate IT group in the world field tests upgrades, uses things like SUS, etc. We used to have some systems at work set to pull from Microsoft Update automatically. One day, a patch for a known vulnerability took down the entire office network when it "fixed" Samba so that none of our Windows machines could talk to any of our *nix servers. The following day, no machines in the office were set to pull updates auto

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Otter ( 3800 )
      What is the point?

      As far as I can tell, the only reason everyone here is so excited about it is that they're convinced that Google, with its Super Google Power, will be first to market.

      If Microsoft (which, believe it or not, still has a few developers left, plus an existing code base to work from) steps up with first with a closed-source, subscription-based office suite with remotely stored files -- we'll see how enthusiastic the AJAX groupies are then.

    • by sedyn ( 880034 )
      Imagine being the average user. Now, setting up programs isn't fun. Remember, this is Windows we are talking about, wizard hell does kick in.

      Another good feature is that things could be automatically stored online. Currently, I don't download any of my email to a local PC. I leave it where I am assured either ssh or web access. This is quite benefitial because I use about three computers in the average week, and sometimes I will want to access my email elsewhere.

      Consider my personal situation:
      I don't o
    • What are the advantages of having an online Office Suite? I'd say that the disadvantages include: security issues, slow speed, dependance on internet connection, limited features, harder to program, and probably many others. What is the point?

      Advantages to the consumer:

      1. Never have to install software again.
      2. Documents can be stored on local system or remote system.
      3. Don't have to worry about software upgrades.
      4. Don't have to pay for software upgrades to get new functionality.
      5. Possibly enhanced function
      • one common thread I see is the on-line/off-line component of these. I'd like to see some firefox extensions that could approach the same functionality. making a web app saved to a PC look just the same as one on the web. so you weren't always tied to a connection.
        • To be honest, there's little to nothing stopping this from happening already. If you use relative paths in everything, you can run the system as easily from a local filesystem copy as you can from remote. The only reason it won't happen is that they will put as much code as possible into the server-side so that you can't just save all the files from your cache, edit 'em a little bit, and have an office suite. Or, in other words, you're not going to be able to do this with anything that's not FOSS.
  • why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jcgf ( 688310 )
    What would the advantage of a web based office suite as opposed to a regular one? Not having to install software locally comes to mind, but having to upload documents all the time to view them sounds painstaking. Besides, it will probably involve activex controls which need to be installed negating said advantage.
  • Yeah, yeah...I know it's not a "web application", but edlin [writeonlymemory.net] beats any editor/word processor developed in the past 15+ years of computing.

    Who needs an "office tool" when they have edlin. vi and emacs users don't know what they're missing.

    • I'm old enough to have used edlin, which means I also get the joke.
    • Oh, come off it. Edlin is just a clone of ed. vi users have ed already, if they choose to use it.

      I had to use edlin just once. I think I used ed about twice. If I'm lucky, I'll never have to touch either ever again.

      I think this joke has passed its expiration date. DOS users mostly no longer exist and even if they do they probably won't know what edline is. Unix users mostly won't give a shit and if they even know it exists, they probably know it's an ed-knockoff.

  • Here's my guess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:02PM (#14771601)
    What will be the primary elements of an Office Suite for the Web be?

    Failure, I suspect.

    What advantage does any web-based office application have to justify the incredible risks of allowing your data out-of-house and being dependent on a working Internet connection to be able to do anything?

    • I agree with your criticism of the idea, but from what I've seen in the past couple of decades, the fact that it is an abysmally stupid idea with no pros and many cons makes me think it will catch on like wildfire.

    • Agreed,

      Using these technologies as services outside the company network is a serious security risk. But they don't need to be outside the company.

      Imagine this "online" Office suite as something you can deploy inside your company network, this can really help to increase productivity. Sharing documents will be a breeze, immagine be able to interconnect complex documents using a Wikki-like structure! Be able to collaborativelly edit them, and keep several versions and revisions. And do this with nothing more
    • There is also a risk for people, especially simple consumers and small businesses, to store things at their own site, if they have a less than ample backup strategy. I would not mind the risk of loosing a tiny bit of data when the web goes down. And as broadband is getting more stable (my connection statistics are fantastic) the problems are mitigated. Actually, I would find it pretty usefull if my internet provider would have an option for backing up data to my (web) space there. (I am fortunate enough to
      • There is also a risk for people, especially simple consumers and small businesses, to store things at their own site, if they have a less than ample backup strategy.

        But that is a manageable risk. Trusting a random third party with your criticial, confidential information is not a manageable risk; if they lose it it, you're screwed, and if they leak it, you're screwed. In fact, data protection legislation would make even using a service like this legally dicey in some places, for precisely this reason.

        • Yes, downtime can be difficult. But for a few MS licenses you can easily get a more reliable internet connection (SDSL with a specified minimum uptime). And as a business, it would make sense to have a spare modem and splitter (if ADSL) as well. Most consumers do not have to take such measures, but for most businesses that rely even a bit on internet access, losing your connection can be costly, even if your word processor is not web based.
  • IBM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:05PM (#14771629) Homepage Journal
    Didn't we hear just a while ago, in relation to all of the OpenOffice controversy, that IBM was developing some sort of thin-client office productivity suite? I distinctly remember hearing something about it. Actually I remember thinking that it sounded much more Google's style than IBM ... but it was cool nonetheless.

    I'm not really sure who they were/are planning on marketing it to -- developing countries, perhaps? -- and I'm not sure that the recent past has really shown much support for the whole "the network is the computer" concept, but maybe they could sell it to people as a cost savings. Get one reasonably priced server, and a dozen or so diskless thin clients, and you could outfit a whole classroom with computers without buying a single copy of Windows or Microsoft Office. And nobody ever has to worry about moving their work from one computer to another, it's always stored and available.

    There are a lot of good things that could be said for such a system. It would take me a while to get over my hesitation to use a web browser for anything BUT web browsing, though.

    Here is the article I think I heard about it from:
    http://news.com.com/2100-1012_3-5208998.html [com.com]
  • Business won't bite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webmistressrachel ( 903577 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:09PM (#14771672) Journal
    I doubt IT departments will encourage wholesale adoption of this over local storage solutions.

    Imagine the news - "Office Farm Servers Hacked Last Night".

    Local security just feels safer, even when it's not.

    • I doubt IT departments will encourage wholesale adoption of this over local storage solutions. Imagine the news - "Office Farm Servers Hacked Last Night". Local security just feels safer, even when it's not.

      Actually, businesses have been biting on this model for a while - almost 40% of corporate email is hosted offsite by a 3rd party, and this trend is growing. MS Exhcnage hosting is one of the fastest growing ASP products out there, and that stuff ALL of your goodies offsite...

  • by wardk ( 3037 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:17PM (#14771722) Journal
    What will be the primary elements of an Office Suite for the Web be?

    <hand up>I know I know I know...call me!!! </hand up>

    how about Word processing, spreadsheet and presentation?

    duh

  • Cant wait (Score:2, Informative)

    by spazoidspam ( 708589 )
    I can't wait for Microsoft OR Google to release a good web based office client. The advantages of a web-based office solution are numerous, but the biggest that comes to mind is that non-savvy computer people dont have to worry about losing their files. Of course I back up all my documents, but my parents arent that smart. When their hard drive failed they lost it all, including all of their email (outlook). I decided to set them up on an exchange server with Outlook Web Access, which they constantly ra
    • Actually I'd much rather see a solution that built in some sort of versioning system. I'd like to be able to carry my office suite on a flash drive use it from any machine and when an internet connection was available it would sync with my repository. In the meantime though I could perform offline editing from any machine. That way I get the benefits of binary clients with the benefits of online storage. I don't really relish the thought of a web based wordprocessor per se. I just want to be able to access
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:22PM (#14771783)
    So we have hardware -> os -> browser -> web site -> office suite

    Why not cut out the web site bollocks? Honestly, not everything has to be on the web. If I *really* wanted a centralised office suite I'd add a VNC server and connect over ssh.

     
    • Well, that would do half of it, I guess. But the other advantage to web-based applications is that they are maintained by the host. You (the user) don't have to bother with installing them or upgrading them or migrating them or whatever. For example, I haven't installed an e-mail app in years and years. But I still get the very latest version, all the time.

      Also, many people who use office don't know what VNC or SSH are. But they know how to type in a URL.
  • hang on a second... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There seems to be a prevailing sense that web applications are all hype and fad. Sure, I don't very much like the idea of hosting my spreadsheets on a server that running who knows where, but within' a business-intranet these ideas start to make alot of sense.

    I've worked in accounting with medium sized construction companies for a few years now. I've never "officially" had a position in IT, but at the firms I've worked for I've always been the computer guy.

    Within an environment with 'less than savy' compu
  • I have been impressed with Airset [airset.com]. They are aiming to be more than just a calendar. They have other PIM features too. They have a recent deal with Verizon Wireless so that your phone can share the calendars, etc. I like the sharing of calendars so that I can know wife's schedule and be able to better coordinate activities with her.
  • I suspect MS will counter movement toward an Open Document Format by bundling pdf capabilities directly into Office 2007. Further I think most of Adobe's line of software is in MicroSoft's crosshairs.

    In terms of Office Tools for the web pdf will become the defacto format. The Open Source community has a chance to finally compete with MS word and ppt, as both file formats will give way to pdf. While the continued development of Open Office is a good thing, in terms of competing with MS on equal ground pdf i

    • You cannot edit a PDF file. Its like a postscript file or a jpeg image. - Yes its the current standard for distributing files and it will likely grow but this article is dealing with editing files with a web based tool and you cant edit a pdf.
  • I recently created a web-based word processor with a bunch of features that I felt were lacking in other offerings.

    Description: AJAX-powered web application which serves as a web-based word processor, content/document management system, publishing system, and wiki-like collaboration system

    Link: http://ghostnotebook [ghostnotebook]

    Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.

  • Ok, I didn't RTFA, but from what I gather this is all about an office suite, which is based on a server and accessed via a web browser. This is happening in Office 12. MS is releasing a web based version, and even willing to host it for companies, for a fee. Sometime in the next few weeks we are going to try it out in beta at my office. Personally, I don't see a need for it, but our Network Engineer has a hard-on for flashy new things, especially MS ones. Fortunatly, I'll probably be able to kill this
  • Maybe someone can help me out here, but I do not understand why this hasn't happened yet? Are they having a difficult time with a pricing model? Is the technology not there yet (I am not sure that it isn't). Is it an adoption issue? We have been hearing about this for so long, I guess I am just confused as to why no one has stepped up to the plate yet.
  • Ads! Think of it: millions of office workers spending their lives glued to their Word or Excel displays, whole lot of screen estate, and not a single ad in sight. And just as people would frown at ads in desktop apps, they are much accustomed to ads appearing every time they do anything on the web. How long before the first web-based office suite displays ads, "carefully tailored to the content of your documents"? Not that damn long, I'd say.
    • Precisely, man. I'm in the latter stages of releasing a very niche web application to a specific audience (not computer-related, as an aside), but offering it completely for free. Since there is no application close to its kind (and again, it is very niche), the aim is to attract users in such a way that they become dependent on it. Plus, it's free. And when the traffic is moving, introduce some inconspicuous ads.

      Instead of collecting fees from the consumers, you collect it from the advertisers who are mo

  • Think about it, what does a word processing program do to your shiny new 4GHz P4 with 4GB RAM? It turns it into a glorified typewriter. Not a damn thing would change if you used notepad instead. What's the advantage of a standalone (exchange-less) email client over, say, mutt? Prettier UI. Spreadsheet is somewhat useful for tinkering with numbers, but when you need more than just back of the envelope calculation, you need an integrated solution that will eliminate double and triple entry of data along with
  • I spent several evenings hacking something together (http://kbdocs.com/ [kbdocs.com]) that was really for my own use, but I made it public. While I wrote this in Java/JSPs, I have something similar in my upcoming Ruby Enterprise book, using Rails.

    As an author, I rely heavily on OpenOffice.org and sometimes Word, but I also like having a light weight web based system for writing notes, etc. that are mostly for myself. BTW, my http://kbdocs.com/ [kbdocs.com] system nicely exports to other formats.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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