Today, I stumbled across a new service out there and my first thought was – Oh no! No another me-too ajax utility. When I dived deeper into zoho.com, I was amazed at what I saw. These guys have been recreating the MS Office on the web. Yeah, Google did spreadsheets. And I use spreadsheets regularly. Google also acquired Writely. But, The way I see it, Zoho is way more feature rich than Google spreadhseets or Writely. And the GUI also is pretty slick and user friendly. Of course the response time from the UI is a bit slow compared to google. But, then Google has always had this edge over other competitors with “God-Knows-How-Many” servers and processors at their disposal. Also, I think Zoho has been developed in Struts/Java, which could also be the reason why its so slow (Hey, I am NOT suggesting Java is slow though I have noticed that java gives out bad performance under some web servers).
A sample spreadsheet on Google Spreadhseet
When Writely started with this online document thing. I had my doubts about why someone would bother to work on a document hosted remotely (and probably unsecurely)! To me word was more a desktop requirement than an online requirement. Its not like I am going to be sitting in a cybercafe trying to type our my architecture doc. But, when Google spreadsheets came out, I started using it and soon realized the potential it was giving me as a user. Today, I use Google spreadsheets regularly.
A sample spreadsheet on Zoho Sheet
Now after Zoho has come out with their toys which on the first glance look way more powerful than the other available options, I am seriously considering moving over :). From the looks of the feature set they are providing in their beta version, I guess they have been working on this for quiet some time now. Zoho looks a very mature product.
Their products include Zoho Writer (online word processor), Zoho Sheet (online spreadsheet), Zoho Planner (online To-Do list), Zoho Show (online presentations), Zoho Virtual Office, Zoho Creator & Zoho Polls. I have read many reviews that vouch for the superiority of Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheet as compared to Google’s corresponding products, Writely & Google Spreadsheet. Arvind has informed me that the most successful product till date is the Zoho Writer, which was launched in Sep2005. – Amit Ranjan
Zoho is the product of AdventNet – Indian company headquartered in Silicon Valley. Sridhar Vembu is the CEO of this organization. I personally knew many guys who were working in Adventnet and I had also heard rumours that they were into web 2.0 stuff. But, never guessed that something this expansive was being worked on under the wraps. The zoho applications seem to have pushed Ajax to its limit.
Hats off to the team that did this! I am sure the guys at Adventnet are having real fun working on this. I wish I were part of something this exciting ;). [To my boss - If you are reading this, come on ... I am just kidding !]
That said, I saw zoho’s applications and google’s office applications being commented on as direct competitions to Microsoft office. With due respects to all them, I dont agree with that. I feel, MS Office will continue to be there as a desktop application. No matter how many people use online office applications, desktop applications will not cease to exist and honestly I dont think it would really affect the sales of ms office. I mean, just because of ajax, desktop email clients didnt cease to exist. Even google which pioneered in redefining the way to read a mail, was forced to introduce a pop interface to use with email clients. So, I guess all these will co-exist in the world. But, really I have to say – We are living in interesting times. We are. We really are.