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10/29/2007
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Should You Replace Microsoft Office with an Online App?

What feels like the sudden arrival of a multitude of online app options -- like Google or Zoho -- has allowed IT managers to ponder a move they would never have even considered just a short while ago: Replace Microsoft Office with an online office suite.

What feels like the sudden arrival of a multitude of online app options -- like Google or Zoho -- has allowed IT managers to ponder a move they would never have even considered just a short while ago: Replace Microsoft Office with an online office suite.InformationWeek explains why this way of thinking is applicable now more than ever:

"Until recently, the idea of online applications replacing locally-installed software was, to say the least, impractical. In fact, before a majority of computer users were on broadband connections, it would have been completely useless: if you're only online a few hours a day you can't confine your word processing and spreadsheet activity to those hours. That has changed in the last few years. Most of us are online most of the time -- certainly, we have continuous access to the Internet at work and at home. As a result, using an online word processor or calendar app sounds a lot less ridiculous than it did before. And there are some things current software applications do rather badly (such as sharing files for collaborative work) that online apps are a lot better at."

InformationWeek writers, Serdar Yegulalp and Barbara Krasnoff, note that while there are a number of commercial and free office online apps out there, it is Google and Zoho that "have taken the lead in offering online applications that have the potential to, one day, knock Microsoft Office off its pedestal."

But is it time for you to lead your company down this path? Yegulalp and Krasnoff take a long, hard look at what these two offerings can do, matching them up to six of Microsoft Office's applications: Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Access.

Their verdict is mixed and depends most heavily on what your company needs its office suite to do. But most telling is Krasnoff's closing line in her appraisal of Google's apps:

"If you're a heavy user of online resources, it wouldn't be a bad idea to make the acquaintance of at least some of Google's applications -- there's a good chance that they will be ready for the big time fairly soon."

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