Microsoft Word vs Writely

After Google opened up the Writely beta for public, there are so many user reviews on the net talking about how this will put an end to Microsoft’s dominance in Office Suite market. Some of the observations are interesting, while most are half-baked. Some even say that Google’s set of web based tools like spreadsheet, writely and calendar will be enough to kill Microsoft. I think none of those people ever used MS Office for anything more than creating their resumes.

While web based tools are great for creating a quick spreadsheet for grocery shopping or a small document to jot your ideas or a report for your school project, they can never handle complex requirements most power users of Office suits require. The point to understand is that Web browsers are never designed to act as containers for AJAX applications like Writely or Spreadsheet – they are bound to suffer from memory issues once multiple documents are loaded. Just open Google spreadsheets and Writely in separate tabs with some documents and observe the memory usage. And corporate users – who are the major users of Office suites – will never store their confidential documents in Google or any Web based provider’s server. I will never store even my grocery list on AOL’s server, assuming they come up with an online application 🙂

Now, for a very fair comparison of MS Word with Writely (click to enlarge images):

Microsoft Word 2

Yep. That is Microsoft Word 2.0 and below is the screenshot of Writely 2006. Got the point?

(Oh yes, I know that Word 2 did not have blog publishing or ‘export to pdf’ features. But then, nobody was talking about them in 1992.)

Writely 2006

PS: On the Mac, Writely works on Firefox and Camino, not Safari. The above is from Camino.

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Here is my new ‘semi-professional’ blog:! Much of the Windows Mobile content that I am writing very irregularly at My Two Cents will now move to and will be featured regularly. The site will be regularly updated with Articles and news on Windows Mobile devices.

So come, register in the forums and join the fun!


Live Writer generates neat HTML!

 For the following text:

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought roams gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way – marking the points with a lean forefinger – as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it:) and his fecundity.

  WordPress editor generated the following html:

And guess what? Live Writer too generated HTML which is as good. See below!

Considering how bad Office 2003 was in this department, it is a great improvement indeed!

Google does a WordPress

Another story of big-guy-copying-the-small-guy. Google just released a beta of their new Blogger. The new beta dutifully brings in the features that WordPress is famous for: Tags, drag and drop template editing, private blogging etc., This upgrade will definitely help in making many of the old time bloggers to continue sticking with this service . I tried out the new beta by signing at Blogger Beta and creating a new blog. Here are my impressions:

1. Drag and Drop Template editing

You can easily add new ‘Page Elements’ by clicking on “Add a Page Element”, which brings up a web dialog with plenty of different element types to choose from. Though looks very Worpress-ish, it is not implemented as efficiently. Sometimes, the elements become too sticky and refuse to move. I think it is a beta quirk, which will get promptly fixed. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly convert a 2 column layout into a 3 column one.  But the biggest advantage over WP is that it still allows you to edit the HTML template, which will help many a power user.  (Not yet implemented, but coming soon..) Another nifty feature is editing the fonts and colors of your posts without any knowledge of CSS.

2. Private Blogging

How about setting up a blog which only you and your girl want to read? Well you can easily do it with this new feature:

 You can invite people to your blog, and only they can read the blog. Nice.

3. Adding Tags to a Post

Ok. The big one. Now you can categorize your posts similar to the way it is done in several other blog software/cms.

You can either add a new tag or you can pick up from the previous tags, which is implemented in the style.

4. Othe niceties

The blog archive keeps on growing over the years. After some time, your side bar will mostly contain only links to archives. Blogger now solves ths problem with a collapsible archive list. Have a look:

I think this is one feature that WP should quickly adapt.

No more spinner: Editing the template, does not require you to republish the entire blog. So no more (sometimes endless) spinner.

In the feature tour it is mentioned that there are plenty of new templates to try out, but I didnt see anything in the template link in my settings.

So What is missing?

-No spam filtering like Akismet

-You can’t install this software on your own server

-So many other things that WordPress can do.

None of these new features will make any user to switch to Blogger, but it is nice to see that others are also playing the catch-up game.

Upcoming Review: Windows Vista

I just installed Windows Vista build 5472 on one of the partitions in my laptop. I am currently in the process of writing a detailed review. Though there are enough reviews available on the internet, this one will focus more on the advanced features like Superfetch, file versioning, Ready Boost and Mobile Sync in addition to the new applications like Photo Gallery, iCal err… mmm.. Windows Calender etc.,

My initial impressions with Vista are good. The installation went through without any glitch. None of the applications have crashed in the last few hours of testing.

And did I tell you that this post is completely written using Live Writer? Obviously this is a much improved version of the blog support built into Office 2007 beta that I blogged about a few months back. It has become much more polished, supporting many more services. The best thing I liked about the tools is its support for embedding images in your posting. No need to mess around with the images on WordPress editor. You can also tag your posts.

The Live Writer release surprised many people, the net is full of initial reviews of this product. Live Writer shows how Microsoft is maturing as a company in embracing third party standards support. Another very interesting move from MS in the recent days is support for PHP in .Net. There is a project now hosted on codeplex which attempts to add a PHP CLR compiler.

More niceties from WordPress

WordPress just rocks. Probably one of the best decisions I made in the recent times was to switch from Blogger to WordPress. While Blogger is dull and un-exciting, WordPress is always bubbling with new features almost everyday. Blogger, as most Google products are – is closed source, while WordPress is Open Source with a very active promoters and community. If you are using Blogger, do yourself a favor and switch to WordPress. You won’t lose anything – it can import every one of your old posts along with the comments. It is even better to get a hosting service on your own – you will have more control over your content and presentation. For example, JavaScript is not allowed within, but if you have your own hosting you can do whatever you want with your wordpress installation. Apart from that, there are a whole lot of plugins available for wordpress, which can be used if you have your own hosting.

The recently introduced “Tag Surfer” is a great new feature. At a single glance, I can find out what other people with same interests as me are blogging about. Great way to make friends and learn too. I was surprised to see that there are so many people who are using the tag ‘Me!’.

Liferea – The best Linux news reader

My search for the best news reading application for Linux is over. After trying out several applications like Straw, Akregator etc., I finally settled on Liferea. Liferea is a GTK based application which is ideal for the gnome desktop. Though it does not have features like discovering multiple feeds within a website, emailing posts etc., it serves its purpose as a basic yet powerful news reader. The obligatory screen shot is below (click to enlarge).


To install just do:

sudo apt-get install liferea

Most of the time, just giving the URL of the website is enough to add a feed!