March 25, 2006

AjaxWrite, the Newest Ajax Office Entrant

Michael's minutes and now from this "AjaxWrite, an online Ajax version of Word, is the newest entrant into the online office space. It opens and saves documents in Word format (you can also save in PDF), has good basic functionality and is fairly fast. I agree with Michael Robertson, the man behind AjaxWrite, that this and other Ajax Word products like Writely and Zoho Writer significanly reduce the need for most of the world’s population to buy Microsoft Word." from TechChrunch. Come on- AjaxWrite and other Ajax productivity applications have a long way to go before coming even close to the experience a desktop application can offer. We are talking about this AjaxWrite, or Internet Wordpad for two reasons. First the man behind is Michael Robertson loves to take jabs at big industry players, remember mp3.com and lately MS and Lindows lawsuit. Second this is web 2.0, and the web is going to do every thing kind of syndrom bubble call it what you want. I was at Corel back in 1996 when the company decided to develop office for Java, remember that? Well I wasn't involved directly, but I know all too well the complexity and challenges of developing web based productivity applications, Claude Montpetit and many others were in the trenches ask them what it is like.

I believe strongly in the model of WebApps, but we have to look at the web for it's real productivity benefits, connectivity and taping the information available. The apps that will take hold on the web are the ones which needs a certain level of connectivity, ie they make use of the fact they are connected in a significant way. For example - Reviewing files is very important, productivity when on the road is reviewing, not producing as such, we should have services for reviewing word/excel files safely in a public environment, it would beat doing this on a blackberry or treo.

AjaxWrite is going to improve, but when are you going to write a document of more than a few paragraphs in a browser window? Maybe when you write an e-mail, so yes I could see Outlook going web only. Filling in a form is another place where you spend decent amount of time writing stuff in a browser window. Another one document reviews, quick and dirty comments or edits to fire back to the author of the document. The competition in those cases is not Word or Excel, they are not the targets, or they are the wrong targets in my mind, but They are easy targets, they are Microsoft, and they get you mileage. Innovator's solution as a good case study on what the blackberry really competes with, I think it applies in this case as well.

I think Ajax applications will develop into a new category, a good interface for manipulating, editing, creating information of and on the web. There are sources of informations organized and not organized on the web that are just asking to be put to use. Ajax apps will leverage webservices in new ways. This is both a larger and narrower mission than creating documents. The productivity apps are a few the basic elements from which they will feed. They will take over from where the productivity apps stop, and go in new ways. Trying to replace instead of complementing them may be the only way to understand where the elements all fit in the picture unfortunately.

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