Category: office 2.0

OpenOffice 3.0 Beta launched

OpenOffice 3 Beta

OpenOffice, the free opensource office suite, released OpenOffice 3.0 Beta yesterday. This latest release now runs on Mac OS X without requiring X11 to be running as well. And there are versions for Windows and Linux obviously.

There are a host of new features like ODF Support, Office 2007/8 import/export and support for up to 1024 columns on the spreadsheet app to name but a few.

With the killer combination of Google Docs (Google’s great hosted office app), OpenOffice and OOo2GD (an app to synch between OpenOffice and Google Docs), the justification for spending any amount of money on Office software has just disappeared!

There is also a large number of extensions available for OpenOffice. Everything from template packs, through to report builders and Wiki writers!

Download it, try it out. If you are worried that it will be a big change in UI from Microsoft Office – wait until you see the Office 2007 UI!!! And did I mention OpenOffice is free?

Are IBM, Google and Sun ganging up on Microsoft?

I see IBM are now jumping into the free Office software arena by launching IBM Lotus Symphony.

IBM Lotus Symphony is a free download from the IBM site (registration required).

Up until now, Microsoft’s competition in this space has come from OpenOffice and Google – neither of whom have a strong track record in the Enterprise Office space! The entry of IBM into this space is game changing.

As well as making Symphony free for download, IBM are also committing 35 developers to the OpenOffice development project. Again conferring the the IBM seal of approval on OpenOffice suddenly marks it up for serious consideration by larger companies.

Seen in light of these recent announcements, Microsoft’s recent move to capture the student market for Office begins to have an air of desperation about it!

Google launches online presentations

Google announced today that they have added an online presentation function to their Google Docs and Spreadsheets. The new application is called Google Docs Presentations and its functionality is available under the New menu:
Google Docs Presentations

You can import existing PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, OpenOffice files and you can email documents to the application. However, there is no support yet for Apple’s superb Keynote presentation software.

Uploading a file to Google Docs Presentations

Uploaded presentations render quite well and you have all the usual revisioning and collaborative abilities you have to come to expect from Google Docs.

Uploaded presentation

Nathan Weinberg has a great article on how to embed Google Presentations into blog posts/articles – what is really amazing about this functionality is that it combines GTalk with online presentations – giving the ability to chat and present simultaneously from your blog/website.

This is slowly eating not only into the Office suite of applications but also into the web conferencing arena.

Is $60 too much for Microsoft Office?

I see that, according to InsideMicrosoft, Microsoft are offering Office 2007 Ultimate 2007 to students for $60!

According to the Microsoft press release the

limited-time promotion for college students starting today in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and starting Sept. 20 in Spain, Italy and France

No word on when, or indeed if, this promotion will be rolled out in Ireland.

Roping students in is potentially a clever tactic – the thinking being that they will get hooked on Office and remain loyal to it as a piece of software long after having left their studies. It costs Microsoft very little to do this as the cost to Microsoft of a copy of Office is essentially just the cost of the media (it is not clear if the $60 includes tax and shipping).

With credible, free alternatives like OpenOffice, Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Zoho office Microsoft really need to win hearts and minds.

Even if Microsoft succeed in getting students to buy-in to Office Ultimate, it is painless to leave Office because the alternatives are free! With that in mind, even $60 seems a lot to ask – Microsoft are going to have to change their business model eventually.

Google's Office 2.0 steps up a gear

Sam Schillace (didn’t he play for Italy in the 1990 world cup?) over at Google has just posted that Google are going to roll out the long predicted Google presentation software application this summer.

This is technology which they bought in via their purchase of Tonic Systems (a San Francisco-based company that provides Java presentation software).

This will be integrated into their Google Docs and Spreadsheets which will now (hopefully not) be renamed Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations!

Google are still playing down the obvious Microsoft Office comparison and to a large extent they are correct, these applications are light on functionality yet. The operative word here, though is ‘yet’.

The massive advantage of applications delivered over the web is that they can be updated centrally on the server and everyone using them, automatically benefits from the new functionality. No missing driver issues, no installation woes, it just works.

To the guys at Microsoft. I have been telling you for a long time now that this was going to happen. You need to release a lightweight version of Microsoft Office on the web, for free, with an easy upgrade path to a downloadable paid-for full featured version.

Ignore this much longer and Google are going to start eating in to your Office market share.

Google Apps Premier Edition

InformationWeek are reporting that Google have released a business class version of their Google Apps.

The new suite of apps will be called Google Apps Premier Edition and, according to the article:

Google Apps Premier Edition features application programming interfaces that businesses can use to integrate it with their own applications. Ten Gigabytes (10GB) of storage for ad-free Gmail is offered standard, meaning workers can spend more time working and less time cleaning out their in-boxes. And Google is offering service level agreements that promise 99.9% uptime and 24×7 tech support.

But possibly the most compelling aspect of Google Apps — at least from the standpoint of potential customers considering a switch from Microsoft products — is the price. Google is offering the whole package for just $50 per user, per year.

The SLA and the 24×7 phone support make this a compelling offering, particularly when you consider there is no software to roll out and/or maintain.

The biggest shortcomings in Google’s apps, right now is the lack of a presentation tool and contacts management but look to Google to address these soon. And obviously, because it is Software as a Service, the new functionality will just appear one day! No messy upgrading or downloading.

This really puts it up to Microsoft.

Here is the feature comparison across the free and premium versions of Google Apps:

Google apps comparison

More here.

Your top Web 2.0 apps?

If we ignore the fact that the term Web 2.0 is controversial for all kinds of reasons and concentrate on the applications themselves, which Web 2.0 apps (using the broadest possible definition) do you use most?

I use:

  1. my blog and podcast software all the time (they are run out of WordPress)
  2. my Flickr account regularly to post photos
  3. Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets frequently for collaboration or sharing of documents
  4. Google’s Calendar to synch with my laptop and mobile phone calendars
  5. Technorati, PubSub and Google’s Blogsearch to subscribe to RSS searches
  6. Flock as my main browser of choice (primarily because of the Flickr and Del.icio.us integration) – I also use Firefox, Camino, Safari and IE7
  7. Feedburner to burn and track my feeds
  8. NetNewsWire, Google Reader and iTunes to consume my feed list
  9. TechMeme, Megite and TailRank for keeping up with tech news
  10. Del.icio.us very occasionally to store URLs for items I have found interesting

What cool Web 2.0 apps am I not using that I should be using? What are your favourite Web 2.0 apps?

Online presentation software review

There is plenty of talk around the online Word processor space and the online Spreadsheet space but you don’t hear as much about the online Presentation space (think online PowerPoint). This is one plank currently missing from Google’s online Office offering.

The other CIX guys and I have a need to create a presentation and, as we are all based in different offices, an online Presentation tool seemed like the way to go.

I had a look through three of the online Presentation tools I am aware of – Thumbstacks, Zoho Show, and ThinkFree.

Because of the poor interface and the lack of support for Safari, I didn’t bother going much farther than the online demo with Thumbstacks.

The next was Zoho Show. To test this, I created a simple (28kb) 2 slide PowerPoint presentation using the builtin Blue Diagonal template. I uploaded it to Zoho Show only to have it appear as below. Ugh!

Zoho Show

Finally, I uploaded the same presentation to ThinkFree and it rendered perfectly.
ThinkFree

ThinkFree didn’t maintain the transitions between the slides but had no problems allowing me to edit the presentation adding slides and bullet points to my heart’s content.

ThinkFree is written in Java so it takes a long time to load, the first time you run it, but thereafter it loads faster. Its functionality is very comprehensive even allowing me to add transitions to slides (but I couldn’t find a way to add transitions to bullet points).

I was easily able to add collaborators (although I haven’t heard back from them yet to see what their impressions were).

Zoho Show has a 5mb upload limit whereas ThinkFree’s upload limit is 10mb. This is an important differentiator considering PowerPoint files are typically quite large.

I should mention that both Zoho and ThinkFree have other offerings like online Word Processors and Spreadsheets but I didn’t look into their functionality this time out.

So, the number of offerings in online Presentation space is limited and, so far, ThinkFree seems to be the best of them.

Microsoft Office? Oh yeah, I remember that…

Via the Google Blogoscoped site comes news of Google’s integration of Google Spreadsheets and Docs into Gmail. Now, anyone receiving an Excel spreadsheet as an attachment in Gmail will be offered the option to open the Spreadsheet in Google Spreadsheets (see below).

Gmail - Google spreadsheet integration

Similar functionality has yet to be added for Word documents but, no doubt, it won’t be long.

Microsoft Office? Oh yeah, I remember that…