Web Apps DOA?

Are web apps from the likes of Google simply dead on arrival? Depends which Kool-aid you are drinking from. If it happens to be from Google, then of course everything web based is wondrous and should be held higher than the reliable local app that does not require an Internet connection. To be fair however, with additions of such items as Google Gears, some Google web apps could eventually gain some teeth.

That said, if you are drinking from Microsoft’s Kool-aid, then you would happily believe that people are totally fine with shelling out hundreds for a now bloated, psychedelic looking word processing app (spreadsheet, database, PIM, etc). Understand, I am not saying that Open Office is the best out there with regards to appearance and its use of Java is bloated. But wow, at least I can find the options I am looking for as the latest version of Office turned me off like a light switch. Office 2K, that was a good suite. Everything since has been fluff.

In the eyes of the average user, it is true, why would they have heard of anything other than Google Search or YouTube? Google has done nothing other than appeal to computer nerds with its online suite. See, the fundamental difference between Google’s Office suite and Microsoft’s is that I see it everywhere. On existing Windows installs, at the big box stores, even on TV. Where is Google? On YouTube? A link from the search engine? In IT related articles like this? Get serious.

If however, you were to take a CD, create a website link to Google Apps, then roll out really slick packaging, an ad campaign and perhaps most importantly, removing the odd-ball UI from the apps themselves, Google might have something. Google has a fairly decent word processor and its document sharing is nice, despite them no longer having the market there any longer thanks to Microsoft’s own efforts, be it not original. But at the end of the day, free or not, nobody of real consequence is honestly using their products…

Speaking frankly, Open Office, NeoOffice (based on Oo) and even ThinkFree, is in a stronger position than Google’s apps. Sure, they are a bit heavier in the bloat dept. However for anyone running a PC with half-way decent resources, they provide for solid products that are usable for the typical user. Does this mean that Google apps are not as good? No, in some ways they are better as the apps are only as heavy as the browser you use it in. Then again, Google apps have a layout that is as hair-pulling as the latest revision of MS Office.

Seriously, I have seen people try and use MS Office 2007. Each of them is clear – they want their old version of Office back. Then I setup Open Office to save as MS docs for them by default and all of sudden, they are blown away. For about 98% of the users out there (my opinion), MS Office is way more than is actually needed.

Microsoft does database software and PIMs (personal Information Managers) right for sure. But their word processing and spreadsheets are typically better suited for office settings with some highly unusual needs based on my experience. To be clear, I think Office 2000 was fantastic, no problems with it. However I own a copy of MS Office 2007 and honestly fail to see why anyone would put themselves through it.

Web apps DOA? Perhaps. And while I do not see Open Office gaining much share outside of people already sharing it with friends, other non-Java based competitors could easily mop the floor with MS Office by killing them at the cash register with a better price point. As for Google, it is true that people in the mainstream are not ready to accept free online apps as a free, service just yet. But then again, I never though Firefox would do as well, either, especially considering Microsoft bundling their browser with everything they touch! Guess anything is possible…

[tags]Microsoft, Office suite, word processing[/tags]