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.


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.

Google Spreadsheet on the anvil

Coming soon: Google Spreadsheet. @SUM(trouble) for Microsoft's bottom line?

For Google fans, some exciting news is always on the cards. This time it is their web based spreadsheet application. (You may recall that Google acquired Writely, a web based word processor sometime back). While not claiming to be a full-fledged spreadsheet application like the MS Excel, this simple application can help one in creating home budget, IT returns etc., and then probably share it with family members later through web.

One interesting aspect of these web based applications is the revenue that Google can earn by selling boxes. Today, they have "search boxes" which are sold to corporates for deploying as enterprise-wide search engines. In the same fashion, Google can chose to sell "Office Suite Boxes", which when deployed, will allow employees to log-in 'to and create spreadsheets, documents etc., and share with others. It may turn out pretty cheap and cost-effective for many small companies. (No more "Oops. Forgot the attachment!" mails!!). I can see where all this is leading to.

On the internet, such free applications like Calendar, Spreadsheet etc., are good for users who do not want to buy an Office Suite (Don't forget the vastly improved OpenOffice 2.0 suite) – what is a big cause of concern is the amount of personal information one stores on Google's database! Google now knows what you search, how is your day like, who and what you mail and in the future, what documents you create! This may have vast implications once new applications are made available, creating a virtual monopoly in the Web 2.0 arena.

A sneak preview of the Google Spreadsheet is available on the Google website here.