Office 2.0: The facts

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Atleast for the past couple of days, the Blogosphere was buzzing with a lot of sceptics of Office 2.0. More or less it amounted to the “what if” question. What is it that causes a hesitation on the part of most people to trust in an online Office application? Mostly it amounts to the following questions:

(1) Why should I use an online Office alternative when I have other Office packages that offer greater level of sophistication?

The classic answer to any “why” question is the George Bernard Shaw style, “why not!”. However, a more contemporary (and acceptable) answer will be, there are some compelling benefits of a web-based Office suite that a classic install and use Office package lacks.

(2) Which are?

Firstly, you need not worry about that pesky little virus that may do a clean sweep. Or an unreliable hard-disk that can crash when you expect it the least. Wasn’t it painful the last time it happened? Also, don’t you find attaching a file clumsy? Haven’t you ever felt the need of two heads georgraphically located at different places pouring over a research paper? How time-saving it will it be if the two of you could simultaenously edit the document!

(3) Yeah, but this requires a decent-speed internet connection, right? What if I suffer from connectivity problems?

Which brings to the next advantage: You can access your data from your neighbourhood cyber cafe should your Network card fail, or if you home-internet connection goes awry. You can access it from any corner of the World that has a decent speed internet connection, from anybody’s computer as long as it’s inside an insignificant blue-green planet called Earth. No one’s planning a lunar office, as of now ;)

(4) Hey, am not ready to store my confidential documents in a third party server, you know.

Web-based e-mail is third party, right? Haven’t you sent or received e-mails? Do you think your e-mails are intercepted? Has any information you shared by e-mail leaked to an outside source? Most online office applications work pretty much like e-mail.
(5) What if one of the Office 2.0 service I trust goes out of business?

It never hurts to do a little bit of research before you “trust”, does it? In this case, lot of people have already tried, tested and reviewed several services. It’d be a lot safer for you to take a lead, or may be pick up a hint or two from there. Ismael Ghalimi’s blog, for instance, carries several blogposts on the topic. And for exclusive test-driving, Zoho services have a “demo login” which you can put to use before settling for documents that are important to you.

(6) I still haven’t got an answer for the “greater level of sophistication” part.

True, there isn’t a feature-to-feature web alternative for any Office application. But hey, the good news is that we are evolving; at a good pace too!

“Somebody Else’s Problem” Field

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Murphy’s law was proved. Yet again. While working on a laptop without a mouse, adding sound and video files to a Powerpoint presentation is a Herculean task. The scroll pad of the laptop with its virtue to be hyper senstive, will go several slides back even with the slightest contact that the finger tip makes. I had to insert several sound files in several slides, and every time I did that, an irritating prompt, “Do you want the sound file to play since the start of slideshow?” or something to that effect. I would have very much preferred if there was a tool bar button to insert several sound files without a prompt asking for ridiculous questions like those.

The other testing times are those “Cannot read from CD” moments. It happens when I do stuff from my home PC, make a copy in a disc and load the CD in somebody else’s laptop/PC in the presentation venue. It happens often. I spend a considerable period of my time in making a presentation, burning it in a CD, and the next day, to add more woes, apart from sleep deprivation, the CD which I burnt isn’t read or recognized, I feel the previous night’s work wasted completely.

It was during those moments when I desperately felt that there was:

(a) More widespread WiFi access than there is already. I could work in a WiFi hotspot not far away instead of relying on a CD drive that is prone to scratch and shock.

(b) A Web Based presentation software, so that I can do my work from home and save it in some third party server which is more reliable than a Disc or pen drive, go to a WiFi spot close to the venue where I have to make a presentation, export the web-based presentation to the hard-disk of the laptop.

I’m positive that there are shorter ways than what I’ve mentioned above. But web developers can atleast think in these lines, to make matters simpler for frequent users of Office packages.