[AI] ARE ONLINE OFFICE APPS THE FUTURE?

techy fox techy.fox at sify.com
Fri Apr 30 12:55:28 EDT 2010


this is the micro soft pollicy because before office 2007 there are no open 
standerds for ms office file and microsoft not reweel properly
at office 2007 microsoft not following the open offoce documents standerd 
which prescribe by w3c
don't confuse with open office .org and open office documents standerd
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sanjay" <ilovecold at gmail.com>
To: <accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 8:19 PM
Subject: [AI] ARE ONLINE OFFICE APPS THE FUTURE?


>
> Neil McAllister pits three online productivity suites against the desktop
> version of Microsoft Office.  Which will triumph?
>
> A spreadsheet in your browser?  A word processor on the web?  If you 
> believe
> Google, soon virtually all software will be web-based.  Google offers a 
> complete
> suite of office productivity apps that run in your browser, but it isn't 
> the
> only one.  A number of competitors are working on web-based suites, 
> including
> Zoho and Microsoft.
>
> In addition to the typical features of desktop productivity suites, each
> offering promises greater integration with the web, including 
> collaboration and
> online publishing features not available with traditional apps.
>
> But even with today's speedy browsers, can browser-based apps truly 
> replace
> Microsoft Office for real-world work?  We put Google Docs, Zoho and the
> technical preview of Microsoft Office Web Apps to the test.
>
> Google Docs
>
> No company is more focused on web-based applications than Google, so you'd
> expect its suite to be the best.  However, the most amazing thing about 
> Google
> Docs turned out to be just how woefully inadequate it is for serious work.
>
> When you log into Google Docs, you're greeted with a familiar, 
> Google-style
> user interface: spare, reserved, understated; but while this elegant 
> approach
> works wonders for Google's search products, it fails to disguise Doc's
> frustrating lack of features.
>
> Google added support for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats in June but, 
> even
> with the older Office formats, Docs chokes on all but the most rudimentary
> formatting.  We found that anything more complicated than a simple column 
> of
> text was distorted.
>
> A sample file created in Word 2007 revealed just how many features Docs 
> gets
> wrong.  Tab stops, paragraph spacing, page margins and placed images all 
> move
> around indiscriminately.  Curly quotes import properly, but that's 
> actually a
> problem, since there's no way to type them in Docs.
>
> Revisions made using Word's Track Changes feature are jumbled together as
> plain text; the same happens for Comments.  Page headers and footers are
> converted to inline text at the top of the document.  Docs doesn't even
> preserve pagination.
>
> The same goes for Excel files.  Basic figures and formulae are imported
> properly, but don't expect much else.  Images are discarded, along with 
> any
> formatting beyond simple cell sizing and shading.  Charts embedded in 
> Excel 2007
> appear as big, white boxes labelled 'No Data'.  Charts embedded in Excel
> 2003 or earlier, meanwhile, simply disappear.
>
> Docs' graphing engine is disappointing.  There's no support for features
> such as trend lines and no formatting options.  The output is hardly
> presentation-ready.
>
> Google Docs does an adequate job of preserving the basic look and feel of
> PowerPoint 2003 files but, again, it's a poor substitute for Microsoft's
> desktop suite.  Graphics appear blurry and resampled, text moves around 
> without
> warning and animations and transitions are eliminated.  PowerPoint 2007 
> isn't
> supported.
>
> Despite its faults, Docs incorporates some intriguing ideas.  If the goal 
> was
> simply to mimic the current office tools on the web, Docs would be a 
> miserable
> failure - but Google is looking at the bigger picture.
>
> In keeping with Google's idea of working 'in the cloud', Docs discards
> files and folders.  Instead, it presents a chronological view of your 
> documents.
> Similarly, Docs maintains an internal version history for each document,
> allowing you to revert to an earlier draft.
>
> Rather than simply recreating desktop apps in the browser, Docs is 
> web-centric.
> You can import documents via email or from the web, or embed them in blogs 
> or
> websites to share with the public.  There's a user interface for embedding
> YouTube videos in your presentations.  There's also basic version control 
> to
> allow multiple authors to work on the same document.  Forget paper; with 
> Google
> Docs, it's all about sharing, collaboration and online publishing.
>
> Most of us in the real world have given up on the paperless office, so 
> it's
> disappointing that Docs' printing is mediocre.  As we noted earlier, it
> struggles with pagination - particularly where images come into play.
> Furthermore, fonts that render correctly onscreen may not print right, 
> while
> graphics come out blurry and jagged.
>
> For all its ideas, Google Docs is missing so much that ijust about 
> everybody
> will be disappointed in some way.
>
> Zoho
>
> Zoho offers a slightly different take on the online office suite.  Zoho 
> makes
> far more of an effort than Google to mimic the look and feel of 
> traditional
> desktop applications.  The results might seem more familiar to new users, 
> but
> they also underscore the limitations of this strategy.
>
> One problem is that Zoho's offering seems to have grown rapidly, with 
> little
> thought to consistency.  A pull-down menu makes moving between apps 
> simple, but
> the lack of a common interface undermines the illusion that this is an
> integrated suite.
>
> Zoho also encourages web-based publishing and collaboration.  Here, its 
> minor
> advantages over Google Docs include the ability to post to blogs directly, 
> to
> generate a 'doc roll' of recent documents for embedding in a website, plus
> integration with EchoSign for digital signatures.
>
> Zoho is slowly implementing more advanced features, too.  Its spreadsheet 
> offers
> rudimentary support for pivot tables and charts, while the word processor
> features a very basic mail-merge facility.  Most remarkable is the
> spreadsheet's elementary support for Visual Basic macros.
>
> But while the suite is adequate as a lightweight set of productivity
> applications, advanced users will be dismayed by its lack of sophisticated
> features and its half-hearted implementations of existing ones.
>
> Zoho's support for Microsoft Office file formats is better than that of 
> Google
> Docs, but only slightly.  Page layout and image placement in the word 
> processor
> are questionable, and revisions made using Track Changes get corrupted.
>
> Support for Excel 2007 embedded graphs is a bit better than Google's, but 
> the
> output is similarly disappointing.  Imported presentations are reduced to 
> static
> slideshows, losing their animated transitions.  And, as with Google Docs,
> printing is unreliable, particularly where fonts and images are concerned.
>
> Zoho's suite is still in beta status, which may explain why it froze up 
> more
> often than Google Docs.  A page reload usually solves the problem, in our
> experience.
>
> Zoho's real strength is its breadth.  It offers a whole range of 
> back-office
> business apps, including groupware, conferencing, invoice management, 
> project
> management and more.  Most are free for a modest amount of storage space; 
> for
> increased capacity and a greater number of users, Zoho charges a per-head
> subscription fee.
>
> Zoho could appeal to small businesses or organisations looking for a suite 
> of
> applications that don't require dedicated IT staff to install and 
> maintain.
> Although it seems unlikely that Zoho's online productivity apps will meet 
> your
> needs as well as desktop software would, it's nonetheless a cost-effective
> alternative.
>
> Microsoft Office Web Apps
>
> Although Google Docs and Zoho are both flawed, Microsoft could hardly have
> expected to take the competition lying down.  The software giant is 
> currently in
> the process of finishing a web-based version of its Office suite, due to 
> launch
> simultaneously with the release of Office 2010.  Office Web Apps was 
> available
> in technical preview at press time, but it's already shaping up to become 
> a
> formidable challenger to Zoho and Google.
>
> Nowhere is this more evident than when you import your first document into 
> the
> Word web app.  Unlike its competitors, Microsoft's online suite reproduces
> .doc and .docx files with absolute fidelity.  Fonts, page spacing, 
> headers,
> footers, auto-text entries and footnotes all appear exactly as they would 
> in the
> desktop version of Word.
>
> Images show up where they ought to, even when placed behind text. 
> Documents
> that mix page sizes, or that alternate portrait and landscape modes from 
> page to
> page, load correctly.  And printing is flawless.
>
> The PowerPoint files we tried yielded similarly impressive results. 
> Images
> retained most of their quality and text remained where it should.  And, 
> unlike
> Google Docs or Zoho, the PowerPoint app preserved animated transitions 
> between
> slides.
>
> You'd be forgiven for assuming that Microsoft relies on ActiveX controls 
> or
> other Internet Explorer (IE) trickery to achieve all this, but you'd be 
> wrong.
> IE users are offered an improved file upload user interface, but 
> everything else
> renders exactly the same in Safari and Firefox.
>
> But there's a catch.  During the technical preview, documents imported 
> into
> the online versions of Word and PowerPoint are read-only.  Whether 
> Microsoft can
> recreate the editing experience of its desktop apps remains to be seen.
>
> The Excel web app does allow editing, however, and the results are mixed. 
> It
> reproduced Excel files with far greater fidelity than either Google Docs 
> or
> Zoho.  Multiple authors can open the same document simultaneously, and 
> their
> changes are updated for all users in real time.  Microsoft says a similar
> capability will not be available in the Word app at launch time.
>
> Disappointingly, there's no revision history feature.  It's fairly simple 
> to
> accidentally corrupt an entire worksheet with a few clicks of the mouse 
> and,
> given that the document saves itself automatically at regular intervals, 
> the
> Revert to Saved button wasn't much comfort.  We're hopeful that this
> situation will improve as Microsoft's Web Apps suite matures.
>
>
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