Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finally an Office-killer that doesn't leave you at the mercy of the internet

Online word processors won't go mainstream until they backup your precious files offline as well.

To be honest your documents are probably safer in the cloud than they are on your desktop, as long as you can get to them. That's not too much of a problem when you're at your desk, but it could get ugly once you're on the road.

Do you really want to be reliant on your mobile internet connection to access critical files? Remember I'm talking about Australia, where free wifi is relatively rare and mobile data is expensive (often with limited coverage). Enter Live Documents, a Microsoft Word plugin that offers the best of both worlds.

Live Documents lets you work on documents on your desktop in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, but then automatically back them up to the web. You can then sit down at any computer connected to the internet, login to Live Documents through a web browser and continue working on your documents. Next time you're back at your own computer, it will download the latest version of your documents from the website so you can pick up where you left off.

Competing products such as Google Apps and ThinkFree Online are working on similar features for online office apps but, to my knowledge, they don't offer it yet. Lesser known Zoho Writer has just introduced an offline editing feature similar to Live Documents, but it doesn't yet allow you to create documents while offline.

Of course Live Documents isn't much of a Office-killer if it still requires Microsoft Word, but the creators (the people who brought us Hotmail) are reportedly working on a version for Open Office as well. Considering Open Office would meet the needs of your average user, Live Documents and Open Office could be a double punch that hits Microsoft where it hurts.

No comments: