Online Office Bandwagon Really Gets Rolling

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

buzzofficelive.jpgLife used to be simple. If you did Windows, you did Office. If you did Linux, you did Open Office. If you did Macs, you drew pretty pictures, edited movies and probably used some obscure office package that was the best thing since white plastic on gadgets. Then along came Google with a funny idea: run the office app “in the cloud” and access it via web browsers. Turns out though that the big guns of the computer world didn’t think it such a funny idea after all and are taking it seriously. So this week has seen Microsoft launch the beta of their Office Live package and Adobe have bought up Virtual Ubiquity (which was of no surprise as they funded its start up in the first place), the producers of the Flash-based word processor, Buzzword.

Of course in true “emperor with no clothes” style, people seem unwilling to point out the obvious: the web browser is a really clunky naff way of supplying the power of office tools, but since when has common sense ever stopped people? I don’t think it is all a bad thing though, as the desire to run desktop apps within a browser is pushing the development of Silverlight, Flash, AIR and the like. And the collaborative features of the Google spreadsheet program should hopefully push “real” office apps in the same direction. Sometimes a funny idea can have great consequences.