Office suites in the cloud: Microsoft Office Web Apps versus Google Docs and Zoho

A spreadsheet in your A word processor on the Web These days, (software as a service) is all the rage, and the success of Web-based upstarts like has sent vendors searching for ever more categories of software to bring online. If you believe Google, virtually all software will be Web-based soon -- and as if to prove it, Google now offers a complete suite of office productivity applications that run in your browser.

GoogleGoogle isn't the only one. A number of competitors are readying Web-based office suites of their own -- most prominently Zoho, but even MicrosoftMicrosoft is getting in on the act. In addition to the typical features of desktop productivity suites, each offering promises greater integration with the Web, including collaboration and publishing features not available with traditional apps. Alles zu Google auf Alles zu Microsoft auf

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But how serious are they Even with today's modern browsers, can browser-based apps truly substitute for Microsoft Office for real-world work I decided to find out. Armed with a selection of demo documents and actual work from my own files, I put Google Docs, Zoho, and the Technical Preview version of Microsoft's Office Web Apps to the test. Predictably, the results were mostly a disappointment -- but my experience yielded unexpected surprises, as well.

Google Docs: Your desktop, onlineNo company is more jazzed about Web-based applications than Google, so you'd expect its suite to be the best, right Wrong. In fact, the most amazing thing about Google Docs turned out to be just how woefully inadequate for serious work it actually is.

When you log in to Google Docs, you're greeted with a familiar, Google-style UI: spare, reserved, understated, even elegant. But while this trademark approach works wonders for Google's search products, with Google Docs it belies a paucity of features that's instantly frustrating.

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