Online Office Suites

I really don’t understand this whole commotion about online office suites. There’s Google and the overhyped Writely/Spreadsheet and of course rumours of Microsoft creating an online version of their "Works" suite.

Let’s be honest – how much use is a browser based office suite? Is there any real benefit of having a browser-based office suite, or is this just another example of people doing things because they can?

You’ve got all the issues associated with an online browser-based office suite:

  • Slow, bad performance.
  • Stability – Browsers have to do all kinds of things such as run Java applets, cope with popups, etc. If one crashes, you could potentially lose all of your work.
  • Hard to develop for – different issues on different platforms.
  • Privacy issues – do we really want a copy of the document residing on Google or Microsoft’s server?
  • A web based office suite will never match a real one for ease of use (web based ones have to work with limitations ofthe browser) or features.
  • Network issues – there are many people with slow internet connections, network bottlenecks, etc. It’s bad enough when the internet goes down as it is; but I can still access and work on all of my documents and files from the hard disk.

The benefits of online office suites seem to be in short supply:

  • You can collaborate with other people.
    Well, you can but there is no reason why a traditional office suite couldn’t do this. It could do it even better.
  • Your documents are accessible from anywhere.
    A USB drive is actually a ton easier (faster; doesn’t require fast connection; doesn’t require network) and almost every computer has Microsoft Word or at least Open Office these days.

I’m sure that there will be some more but I really can’t think of any off the top of my head.

Besides, who wants to see adverts whilst their editing their spreadsheet document? Is it really hard to install a free copy of Open Office on a computer which provides a world-class office suite? What does one gain from instead using a web browser to edit their documents?

4 thoughts on “Online Office Suites

  1. I also don’t care for it, probably about 80% due to the privacy and instability issues, 10% browser-support technicalities, and 10% other: the Free Software movement exists because *anyone can* write whatever code they like, in the privacy of their own toilet. This is a shift towards having a few central monopolies of closed-source code, which would be despicable. On those grounds, I do not use Google to store any personal info other than what is necessary to bolster services that I run myself (googleads, sitemaps, maybe Base); Calendar and other office-style apps are out of the question for the forseeable future.

  2. I can’t imagine where i’d ever be where I need to do some sort of word processing where I haven’t got access to an office suite. If I was at university and needed to quickly make a document I’d jump on a computer and boot up office. I agree online office suites are relativley pointless, if the whole thing about it was testing the ability to distribute software over a network then that’d be ok but since we can already distribute software/operating systems over networks so…


  3. Well, FTP would be the worst protocol for the purpose. I suggest WebDAV over SSL.

    Can you imagine anyone wanting to run a serious company saying “we’ll do all our calendaring in google”??

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