Office 2.0

Office 2.0 is starting, with Google and Zoho as leaders of Office 2.0 conference. Obvioulsy we are eager to know where this new episode of the web is going to and which tools and standards will be around in 2 years time.

Most companies need this type of software today as a large part of employees can be online at work, at home or on the road. It is too early to see where this is going as this type of software is still in infancy. But we can list a few criterias that will help deciphering this area:

  • integration of the the software suite: is the product well packaged?
  • complete? : have we got enough module types to cover main office applications
  • modularity: can we extract a software module (ex. spreadsheet) and use it in another environment (mashup).
  • extensibility: how easy is it to create a new module and add it to the software suite.
  • cost

Evaluating Zoho:

Currently we can see that Zoho does very well in terms of integration and is fairly complete. Cost is fair and most businesses can afford it.

However I haven’t seen any API for developing new modules. A company who needs the software and requires quite a few bespoke modules would probably have an issue with Zoho.

Also it is unlikely we will see any module used in a mashup.

Conclusion: this type of software is nice to use and looks professional. It can probably used by a lot of small businesses. However, it is unlikely the software will have a massive impact until an API is released for adding new modules.

Google “office”:

Google doesn’t really provide an office suite yet. But the word editor and spreadsheet applications can be helpful for sharing this type of documents (replacing word and excel). The integration level is then not very well advanced and it is likely it will remain so for a while (or Google would have to stop claiming it doesnt want to replace Microsoft office).

It is not complete either but Google brings new tools on a regular basis so it is possible we’ll see a suite of tools that will cover most office needs in a couple of years..

But where Google will create a real change on this front will be when it releases their API for using the tools in a mashup environment. It is likely we’ll then see their word and excel modules integrated in a lot of frameworks or collaborative tools. Just like we now have rich text editors in most of these environments, we’ll see word editors proposed as standards and spreadsheet data edited in blog tools…

Conclusion: Google will probably create a market move when it release its office API. Until then, it is just another nice tool of limited use.

Where is Office 2.0 going?

Office 2.0 has the potential to complement or replace traditional desktop applications if we have a software suite :

  • that provides enough applications out of the box,
  •  is well packaged and usable,
  • with an API for adding other modules.

An open source system would have a huge impact on the market but an open API would be enough if the price tag for the core of the software is affordable by small businesses.

It is likely we see Office 2.0 coming with a few leading application dendors that will share the market for generic applications, with a lot of smaller suites focusing on vertical markets.

A second step would then be to create a standard for application modules that could be integrated in suites supporting it, and this standard could use an ajax/mashup model. This type of standard would not require too much effort (ex. an html page with a simple API for loading JS and css resources) and could be defined very quickly (< 2 years).

Widget frameworks (Google desktop, Yahoo widgets) could also be integrated with Office 2.0, especially if they support an office 2.0 api. This would allow users to be notified when new documents are added or modified in their online office workspaces and/or have their main application modules directly integrated in the desktop, thus creating a mixed of online/desktop office suite. One adavnatge of this solution will be that modules will be available everywhere (web application) but also will be running on PC + Macs even in their desktop widget form (Google and Yahoo widget framework being available on both platforms).

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One Response to “Office 2.0”

  1. Arvind Says:

    Thanks for writing about Zoho! We do have plans to provide APIs. Zoho Planner already has one.

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