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


But there must be a catch, right Sure, and it's a doozy: Microsoft's applications don't really work. During the Technical Preview, documents imported into the online versions of Word and PowerPoint are read-only. Mind you, that's nothing to sneeze at; if you're looking for a surefire way to read and print Word 2007 documents from Linux, for example, these apps are already a godsend. But whether Microsoft can re-create the editing experience of its desktop apps remains to be seen.

The Excel Web app does allow editing, and the results are mixed. Like its siblings, it reproduced Excel files with far greater fidelity than either Google Docs or Zoho. This was especially true for embedded graphs, which rendered exactly as they do in Excel 2007, down to the fonts and coloring. Changing figures on the worksheet caused the graphs to be redrawn in real time, which was impressive to watch.

Microsoft's Word Web App (above) reproduces .doc and .docx files with absolute fidelity, down to the smallest detail. Excel Web App (below) also was impressive, but the results were more mixed. (Note: Click the images to enlarge them.)

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