Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Web Applications as Office Assistants for Traveling People

While traveling to a remote country in Asia, I would frequently visit internet cafes because there are not enough wireless services in my cheap hotel and in coffee shops for my ever dependable laptop.

One thing I noticed is that many internet cafes have switched to using Open Office in a span of over a few months. I asked the café assistant and learned that raid by Microsoft has been frequent and many internet cafes have closed because they were caught using unlicensed Office Suites.

I do not have problem with Open Office even though I have been a Microsoft Office for many years until now. But I recently read at a website that there are web based alternative to office applications.

And then I wondered how I could have missed Google Docs (http://docs.google.com). Google Docs has stripped features of the Microsoft Word but I think what this application offers is already enough for me. I tried to insert tables in the documents I could not find tables. Anyway, I usually don’t really use that much table in my documents.

I uploaded some of the documents I created offline through Microsoft Word, and voila! It was instantly added to my list. I could even share the documents I uploaded of created via Google Docs.

Google Docs also has a spreadsheet application that can replace Microsoft’s Excel. A lot of Excel’s most frequently used features are offered in this online application.

More and more web applications are emerging on the internet and this may be seen either as a threat or as challenge to innovate by big companies like Microsoft.

In the realm of organizers and email applications where Microsoft’s Outlook once reigned supreme, email providers Yahoo and Google have I think overtaken the niche set by Microsoft. I have always been a user of Google calendar and I am very contented with it. I have even embedded Google calendar in some of the websites I maintain.

Some alternatives to Microsoft Powerpoint are Empressar, Google Presentations, Spresent and Zoho show. Even in the movie, people are slowly moving to the web with applications like JumpCut, YouTube Remixer, MotionBox and Eyespot. For now, these online movie makers are still far from being at par with their stand alone counterparts considering the fact dealing movies involves very heavy big file sizes. But maybe soon when internet speeds will have greatly improved, so will online movie makers too. I can’t wait for that to happen especially that I like traveling around with video camera on hand.

And now, check this out: Online desktop. DesktopOnDemand offers 1 gigabyte of storage so that one can upload his files and other applications and access them anywhere like using his own settings on his desktop at home. Nivio offers similar services with 5 gigabytes of storage. And these are free services but can be expanded with minimal fee.

All these are very big proofs that the browser is the king of applications in today’s computing!

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