It seems that every few months, a new web-based office suite is born. Since I spend a good deal of my time writing, having a reliable word processor is paramount. Over time, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with the size, cost, and inexplicable changes to Microsoft Office. Combined with the failure of Windows Vista, the massive changes to Office 2007 has caused a lot of people to reconsider spending so much on future Microsoft Office releases.
In the past 3-4 years, a lot of companies have introduced web-based office suites to compete directly with Microsoft’s offerings. A little over a year ago, I was just learning my way around Think Free Office, and hitting a point of frustration with Google Docs. Microsoft has recently felt the pressure to bring their office products to the web via Microsoft Office Live. The public has embraced these tools, and it has created stiff competition among these companies. They are all scrambling to bring the public the features they need and want, without the enormous overhead of a desktop office suite. Recently Adobe has taken the plunge into this arena.
Adobe’s office suite currently consists of the following applications:
- Buzzword, a robust wysiwyg word processor
- ConnectNow, a web conferencing application
- Acrobat for PDF creation
- File upload, sharing, and management tools
- An Adobe AIR desktop application
Although this suite was just launched, it has great potential. The file management tools were launched at the beginning, and are not an after thought like they were when Google Docs launched. File upload, sharing, and editing are painless. Everything loads extremely quickly in Firefox and from the desktop AIR application. ConnectNow is an ambitious addition to an Office Suite. None of the competing suites have an application to compete with it. The AIR application also provides a degree of comfort for people who still prefer desktop applications.
I am sure that Adobe plans to add a spreadsheet application and a presentation application in the future. Once these additional applications are added, this suite will force the competition to continue to innovate. Adobe definitely has the edge on the competition from a design perspective, and as these applications are further developed, Google Docs, Think Free Office, Microsoft, and Zoho will have to recognize that this suite is a viable, easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing, and functional alternative to their offerings.