Office Alternatives

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InfoWorld did a good analysis of MS Office alternatives (Slideshow here). They picked couple of vendors from the cloud (Zoho and Google) and couple from the Open Source world (IBM and OpenOffice) and did some analysis to see if they stand any chance against MS Office. Full article is available here. Here is the summary.

InfoWorld Office Alternatives

Glad to see Zoho lead the pack (along with IBM) with our current apps.

Bottom Line:
If you’re ready to embrace the SaaS future, then Zoho could be the productivity suite you’ve been waiting for. Zoho can provide both personal productivity and business back-end applications, and with Google Gears, you can keep working on documents even if you can’t find the Internet. Zoho is the only suite here that you could easily use to run a complete business. It’s also the only one that can run virtually all the Excel macros you might have developed

The good news is, the applications are improving at a very rapid pace. If you have noticed, its been a while that we rolled out a new app. The focus lately has been more on integration between apps and enhancements to the existing ones. In the longer term, we think cloud based productivity suites can go far beyond desktop software. We’ll see this happen over the next year or two.

While InfoWorld looked at Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation apps, the productivity suite goes beyond these three (Wiki, Email etc are others). Also, you’ll need more apps to run your business than a productivity suite. In the bigger picture, we are trying to build a suite of apps to run your business. As we often say, we want to be your IT Department.

Thanks Curtis for the analysis.

Update: ComputerWorld did similar analysis here.

Swisscom Selects Zoho

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We are delighted that Swisscom (incumbent telco in Switzerland) has chosen Zoho for a six month pilot for its Zoho Business Suite which is now available on their Software-as-a-Service portal Teamnet.

Zoho and Swisscom have teamed up to create a custom version of Zoho Business, with Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook and Meeting now available to its 300,000 business customers. Even though Swisscom is the incumbent telco operator in Switzerland, it is taking a bold approach by extending its offerings to the SaaS space.

Increasingly, Service Providers are looking to add value on their existing networks and have started to include online applications like Zoho to their portfolio of services. In the past, one would not turn to the telephone company for productivity applications, but this is changing with the wider adoption of SaaS in the marketplace. We are glad that Swisscom is taking a lead in this regard and will keep you posted on other developments and partnerships as this trend picks up momentum in coming months.

“The goal of the pilot is to provide our business customers with a value added web offering they can evaluate as part of a turnkey solution from their service provider. Zoho is an ideal partner that combines a wide and very innovative range of applications as well as a very solid engineering team to deliver the capability we wanted.” said Michael Gmuer, Head Business Process Optimization of Swisscom.“.

Teamnet Integration

Zoho and its Alliance Partner Program offer service providers multiple paths to increase ARPU (average revenue per user), the holy grail that telcos seek to maximize by adding additional services to their existing infrastructure. The program offers partners a flexible means to bundle various Zoho services for both consumers and business users.

While we are starting small with the Swisscom project, it is a significant step towards a broader Zoho distribution channel in Europe. This follows our recent partnership with Baihui in China.

Thank you Swisscom for choosing Zoho and for your investment in the project. We look forward to feedback from your users and to a successful venture together.

Zoho Writer Update : Issues related to Safari browser fixed

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We had a minor Zoho Writer update in which the issue of document content not getting displayed in Safari Browser on a Mac has been fixed. Users who have reported this particular issue in the past couple of days can try accessing Zoho Writer documents in their Safari browser and the content should come up fine for editing in the Writer editor.

Zoho Writer provides limited support for Safari browser as of now and hence some of the feature may behave inconsistently in it. We suggest Mac Users to access Zoho Writer on Firefox 2.0+ browser versions for a better experience. Full support for Safari browser will be provided in our next series of updates. It’s in the works right now.

Format your Columns as you like in Zoho DB & Reports

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Zoho DB & Reports offers a wide range of data types (column types) to store your tabular data. So far, the options offered for formatting the data stored in these column types have been limited. We have addressed this in our latest update.

Zoho DB & Reports now offers a wide variety of formatting options for each data type. With these options you can choose how you would like to have your data displayed in the various reports created.

How to format a column?

  1. Select the table or tabular view in which the columns are to be formatted
  2. Right click on the column that is to be formatted
  3. Set the necessary formatting option in the dialog that pops up
  4. Click OK to apply the formatting changes

Immediately you will see the formatting options being applied over the column. Zoho DB & Reports also ensures to carry over this formatting set for a column across all the reports (chart, pivot, summary & tabular) created including this column.

Formatting options supported include Text Alignment, No. of Decimal places (for all numeric data types), Currency Symbol (for currency type), Negative Number Display (for currency type), Date display format and Include thousand separator (for all numeric data types).

Customize Chart Coloring:

In Zoho DB & Reports the colors used in charts have been system generated so far. With the latest update you can now change the colors used in a chart to suit your taste. Follow the below given simple steps to customize the color in a chart:

  1. Select the Chart whose colors are to be customized
  2. Click Edit Design and go to edit mode
  3. Click on any of the category colors listed in the legend (seen on the right side of the chart) to change the same.
  4. A color chooser will pop up
  5. Choose the color required
  6. Click Apply to apply the color Or Click on Use Default if you would like to revert to system generated colors.

Auto-recognizing currency data during Import:

Now Zoho DB & Reports has included the intelligence to auto-identify a data column as currency when you import it into Zoho DB & Reports. You do not have to manually set the data type of those columns as currency, which had been the case so far. The data could be in any of the accepted currency formats (with currency symbol or abbreviation eg., $, USD etc.,) of any country. Auto-recognition would be applied when you import data into Zoho DB & Reports from any of CSV or .XLS or HTML files

Hope you find the above features useful. As always do give it a try and let us know your comments.

Zoho Reports – Online Reporting & BI Service

Importing/exporting contacts from/to your mail clients (Address Book) – Announcing support for vCards in Zoho Invoice

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Now it is easy for you to move your contacts between Zoho Invoice and your mail clients (address books) like Microsoft Outlook, Mac Address Book, GMail, Yahoo mail etc.  Yes, we are happy to announce the support for vCard import and export, the most commonly used standard to manage and transfer contact information.

How do I import the contacts from my mail client to Zoho Invoice?

  1. The first step will be to export the contacts from your mail client in vCard format.  The procedure to export contact information as vCard differs for each mail client.  Here I have explained the procedure for one of the most popular mailing service – GMail.  Shortly we will be publishing the procedure for other popular mail clients in our help docs.
    • Sign-in to your GMail account.
    • Click on the “Contacts” link and select the contacts you want to export.
    • Click on the “Export” link and select “vCard format” for exporting the data.
    • Click on the “Export” button and save the file.
  2. Now Sing-in to your Zoho Invoice account.
  3. Click on the “Customers” tab and click on the “Contacts” link on the left.
  4. Click on the “Import Contacts” link at the top right.
  5. Click on the “Import” link next to “vCard”.  Browse and give the file that you have saved from your mail client.
  6. All your contacts will be imported into Zoho Invoice.

Note: We will re-use the “last name” of the contact for Company/organization name if it is not specified for the contact.

How do I export the contacts from Zoho Invoice?

  1. Sign-in to your Zoho Invoice account.
  2. Click on the “Customers” tab and click on the “Contacts” link on the left.
  3. Now click on the “Export Contacts” link at the top right.
  4. In the export page that comes up, click on the “Download” link next to “vCard”.
  5. All your contacts will be exported as a single vCard file.

You also have to option to import or export your contacts individually from the contact’s details page.

Hope you find this feature useful; don’t forget to share your comments with us, as it goes a long way in improving our service.


‘Open IT Online’ integrates Zoho

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Open IT Online is a Firefox extension that allows to open and edit documents and images from everywhere. Thanks to this extension, you will be able to open several types of documents directly in Firefox using online services (such as Zoho) without needing any software to be installed. In other words, it adds an option to your Firefox “Open With” dialog to let you open Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more file types in the Zoho suite, Google Docs, ThinkFree Viewer & others. You can configure defaults for every file type – nice and convenient for fans of online editing. Open IT Online is a free download and it works wherever Firefox 2 or 3 does.

Here’s more screenshots & a nice video of how to use Open IT Online to view documents online with Zoho. Install the Open IT Online Firefox add-on to view/edit files directly online without downloading them.