Microsoft Office is a great productivity suite to take care of your office needs but there are two negative points that forces it’s users to wish if they had an alternative. The main disadvantages with MS Office suite are:
1. You can not carry it everywhere with you. e.g. Lets say you are on a holiday trip and purposefully left your laptop back at home (because you didn’t want to be distracted by your work) and then the unthinkable happens; your boss gives you a call at night and begs you to prepare a power point presentation and few more documents and get them ready when you get back from the holiday, tomorrow. And the nearest computer at your hotel lobby does not seem to be having MS Office installed. Damn! You wish you had not left your laptop back at home.
2. MS Office comes with a price tag and is not Free.
To overcome such shortcomings, the need of “Web Based Office Suite Service” arises. A Web Office suite is a combination of productivity, publishing and collaboration features. A Web Office both embraces the functionality of desktop office suites (e.g. Microsoft Office) and extends it by using Web Native features.
The key to defining a Web Office is to limit it to the type of productivity applications that you’d find in a suite like Microsoft Office. So a Web Office suite would be a set of tools that helps you be more productive in your daily office work, alone or as a group. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email, calendar – these are the traditional apps found in an office suite, and they’re as relevant online as on the desktop.
These days, there are is even more great software available to teams who want to assemble their own virtual office. Below are some of the tools every team needs to create their own online office:
1. Google Docs: Google Docs is probably the easiest to use of the various online word processing applications available today. It also has historically given me the fewest problems. It also supports OpenOffice .odt format (which not all word processors do). I’ve never had any issues logging into Google Docs and accessing my documents. You can upload files, create new files, access your documents anytime from anywhere. Also it has Google Gear support, which enables the user with offline access. When you have internet access, you can view and edit your docs in real time and when you’re offline still you can get all the features but it will sync with the online version only when net connection is established.
2. Zoho – Office: Zoho Office Suite is a spry little collection of modules, taking only two seconds to launch the word processor (Writer) and spreadsheet (Sheet). The suite is extensive: it includes Projects (project management software), Show (presentations), Virtual Office (groupware with a calendar, e-mail client and more), Creator (database manager) and Planner (an organizer for reminders and notes). Zoho Writer does a fine job of covering the basics you need most days: check spelling, align text, create bulleted or numbered lists and control fonts (size, style, color). Don’t go expecting much beyond the basic features, however. It’s not as rich as Word or ThinkFree: The spell checker will underline mistakes, for instance, but you can’t right-click and find the correct spelling from a list.
3. ThinkFree: It’s not always the smoothest application to use, but their Java-powered power edit mode is definitely the most advanced online word processor and feels a lot like Microsoft Office XP. It’s the only online office app I know of that has support for Microsoft’s .docx format. ThinkFree has three main components — Write (a word processor), Calc (a spreadsheet), and Show (presentation software) — all of which are listed on the site’s My Office page, along with your most recently edited files. If you’re concerned about document compatibility with Microsoft Office, you want ThinkFree. There’s simply no contest.
4. Peepel: Peepel is a free online office suite with document collaboration and maps. Peepel includes a permission based, people tracking system which allows you to see where your friend’s are on a map. Peepel provides spreadsheet and writer, and it is really stylish to work with. You can work in the same window with spreadsheet and writer and all other peepel accessories, without having to toggle your view between the screens.
5. Live Documents: Live Documents is an online office productivity suite that gives you the powerful productivity features of Microsoft Office coupled with the collaboration and mobility of Google Docs. Live Documents is the only online office suite that provides “non-lossy roundtripping” for Microsoft Office documents – rest assured that the documents that you import do not lose fidelity.
6. AjaxOffice: This cool little web based office service is from SourceForge. This is a complete office suite usable via your browser. Your documents are safely stored on a server so that you don’t have to worry about backups and you can access them from every computer in the world! AJAXOffice is to OpenOffice what GMail (Google Mail) is to Mozilla Thunderbird.
7. fengOffice: Feng Office allows businesses to manage project tasks, billing, documents, communication with co-workers, customers and vendors, schedule meetings and events, and share every kind of electronic information. Furthermore, all features are easily accessible within a single web page and accessing an integrated view, business managers and directors can get a clear picture on the status of projects and customer services, assisting them on the decision making processes.
8. gOffice Web Word: This is a browser-based online word processor and desktop publishing program, which is a wrapper around Microsoft Word 2007. This means you can implement a subset of the features found in Word on your website. The output quality of the files will be oustanding because the files will be true Word files. In a single line, gOffice offers a mini-suite of word processing, desktop publishing, presentations and spreadsheets.
9. Num Sum: This is a web-based spreadsheets. This interesting service that lets you share spreadsheets. It lets you track your records, lists and data online and share with everybody or with just your close friends. NumSum was an early “social spreadsheet” service. When it first came out it was hamstrung by the spreadsheets not being shareable. However I’m happy to see that this feature has since been added, enabling multiple users to edit a spreadsheet.
10. TechChunks Office Suite: I might have listed this at the end of my list but make no mistakes. This is by far the best online office suite available at the moment. This has lightening fast response time, is free to use and comes with an wide array of cool apps like — word processor, spreadsheet, project management software, presentation software, database manager, reminders/notes organizer, groupware with calendar and e-mail client, chat, wiki software… Okay, I am just kidding and there is no such web based office suite called TechChunks Office Suite! 😛
Actually, this slot (number 10) is empty for the time being and I would love to hear your favorite online office suites and will update this slot with a reader recommended service, that I find interesting.