Google just introduced ‘Google Docs & Spreadsheets‘. Since I am a ‘googler’ I had to try it out. This will probably be the next big thing, right? Although I had just installed Office 2007 on my computer I coudn’t wait to see what would replace it! So, after rushing to Google and signing-in I started to write my first document, this posting actually. At first you see a lean and mean interface, good I thought. Then I got the creeps, hang on, maybe this is all there is! To give you an idea, this is what it looks like…
This application used to be called ‘writely’ before Google acquired it. There are other similar alternatives such as Ajaxwrite , Zoho writer and no doubt that Yahoo is also working on one, as is Microsoft with their Live program. I checked out both alternatives as well and they are actually very similar. All allow you to write simple documents and apply very limited formatting. The nice thing is that it stores all the documents online, as part of your Gmail account or similar. So you always can access your documents…but so can Google which will scare-off all the privacy freaks. Having my documents as part of my account is rather cool but then I’ll see it as a ‘web drive’.
The disappointing aspect is that Google Docs is very basic. It is more like Notepad on steroids than anything else. Exporting to other formats works but it is very limited and even styles do not get carried over correctly. One good feature is the spelling checker which actually works. I would say there is no immediate threat to Office 2007…..it will take a while :-)
Besides the fact that I am impressed technically speaking that it is possible to create word processor in HTML, I wonder if there is really a market for such web applications now that the whole world is using MS Word. Before Google Docs or any other wordprocessor reaches the level where Word documents can be edited and save with all features such as inserting images, drawings, styles, and so on, we’ll be living a couple of years ahead. When Word becomes available in XAML, one of the other technological promises of Microsoft, the need for HTML based applications is largely gone.
For the time being it is a good alternative for people who write simple documents and want to have access to them everywhere. But it is not more than that I am afraid…perhaps you’d better continue with installing Office 2007 now! All in all, wow-factor: 5/10