Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Want to Go Office-Free?"

This is what AP Business Writer Allison Linn was asking herself. To get an answer, she decided to spend one week relying as much as possible on free Web services for everyday business tasks.

The result of her experiment:
For now at least, Microsoft is right -- these challengers will complement, not replace, my Microsoft Office software.

I think she's right. MS Office is such a large and powerful suite of applications, and some applications lend themselves better to being webified than others. For example, despite a good Web-based spreadsheet application like Num Sum, I won't trash Excel anytime soon. (This doesn't mean that Num Sum isn't perfectly suitable for a large number of use cases. It may also be a good alternative for occasional users or people from developing countries who don't want to spend money on Excel.)

For a counter-example, I think calendar software is an application type which is perfect for webifying. I can't think of anything which a desktop calendar can do which an online calendar can't, and the advantages of turning your calendar online are obvious. So maybe it's just consequent that my favorite quote from the article is also about online calendars:
My overall favorite turned out to be CalendarHub, which easily imported four years worth of calendar data into a pleasing interface and -- like several out there -- offered handy e-mail reminders of upcoming events.

Seems like she agrees with Dion Hinchcliffe, who named CalendarHub as the best Web 2.0 application of 2005 in the calendar category. Another interesting thought I stumbled upon:
Also, although it is nice in theory to be able to access data online, in practice it often took longer to log on to different applications every time I needed something, rather than just opening a file on my desktop.

That's right, Mrs. Linn. This is one of the reasons we're creating Pageflakes. Our plan is that some time in the not-so-distant future, Pageflakes will allow you to access all your applications and all your data conveniently from one page. When you can carry your applications to the Web, why leave your desktop behind?

Full Disclosure: I'm affiliated with CalendarHub and Pageflakes.
Promise: Less self-promotion in my next posting. ;-)

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