While Microsoft Office is still the market leader in the office productivity arena, it is definitely not the best choice for users. As more and more office suites are getting onto the Web, providing free access, usage and features comparable (or even better) to Microsoft Office, it makes one wonder whether it’s worth spending $500 to get the new version of Microsoft Office.
The advantage of using online office suite is not only the prices (it’s free), but also the ease of sharing and collaborating with others. In addition, there’s no software to download and install, not to mention any operating system compatibility issue.
Here are some of the popular online office suite.
Zoho is probably the best online office suite that I have come across so far. Its whole office suite comes with the Zoho write (word processor), sheet (spreadsheet), show (presentation), wiki, creator (database management), notebook, planner (calendar), meeting and chat. Some of its great features include the option to publish the content to your blog, convert your files to pdf, tagging for easy retrieval, template library and a small bookmarklet that allows you to add content to your zoho account as you surf the Web.
Google Docs provides a simple word processing, spreadsheet and presentation editing tool. Its main advantage is its ability to integrate Gmail, Google Calendar and other Google services seamlessly. While it is not comprehensive in its feature, it is definitely the most heard of (probably the most popular) in the Web.
ThinkFree is probably the online office suite that resemble Microsoft Office the most, including the toolbars, icons and functions. In fact, it claims to be fully compatible with Microsoft Office files. ThinkFree also provide you with 1GB storage space, which you can use it as an online backup for your local files.
Live Documents looks and works exactly like the latest Microsoft Office 2007. In fact, it is a mimic (or you can call it a hack) of Office 2007. The rationale behind this is to give the user a familiar environment so that there is nothing new to learn. The full strength of this office suite lies in its ability to use your existing desktop Office application as a smart client that permits offline access to your document, and synchronizes all changes the next time you go online.
If you have come to love Open Office, then you will find Ulteo familiar too. Ulteo literally put the whole full feature Open Office in a browser so that you can use it online. The whole application is run on Java and is aimed at Open Office enthusiasts. Initial loading can take quite a while, but taking into account that it is providing a full-feature office environment, the waiting time might just be worth it. (Ulteo provides more than office suite. It is in fact an online operating system where you can open up your very own KDE desktop.)