Thanks to my colleague Rick Pollak for pointing this out.
Seems like Google has released Writely.com which is their answer to Word. Registration is open, and you can sign up. I used my Google account and got a confirmation email – however I was able to use the site before I confirmed.
My first experience was not good – as IE had crashed – well it was running at almost 100% CPU and eating all the resources (click the image to see details). Which meant at the end of the day I could not kill that process and I had to restart the machine. But, since I am running IE 7 (Beta 3), I am not sure if there is an issue with IE itself or if the problem is with writely.
I have not used this for a long time, so these are only the first impressions and so far I am more impressed with the collaboration tools than the editor itself. It has all the basic things you would expect – fonts, spellcheck, etc. There are also other a little more advanced features such as the ability to insert comments, manage bookmarks, table and image support. The image can be a maximum of 2mb in size.
The collaboration features seems to be quite impressive and it would be interesting when MOSS 2007 ships, what impact would it have on SharePoint 2007. I guess it is safe to say that almost all Enterprises will not be using this (you won’t want your document out there on someone else’s server now would you?). But, for most of us this probably is not too much of an issue. I know my Dad won’t have an issue for example. Also, the revisions is interesting – I have not used this. But it seems to be promising and might have helped in the WCF book I have been writing. All the back and forth between myself and the TE’s (Technical Editors).
The File > Save As menu is also interesting. As you can see as it allows one to save the document in a number of formats that you would expect such as HTML, Word, OpenOffice, PDF. And in a few that you won’t expect such as a RSS feed.
You can also tag the various documents (quite similar to the way you can to blog posts and photographs), and I can see the value in having something like that. This is of course similar to something that will also be in Vista.
Also you can directly publish to you blog. The blogs it supports “out of the box” are blogger.com, blogharbor.com, blogware.com, livejournal.com, squarespaces.com, wordpress.com. But fear not, if whatever blogging thing you use, you can use it as long as it supports one of the following API’s: Blogger API, MetaWeblog API or MovableType API.
If security of your document is important, then you will be glad to know they say they take security very seriously. Here is what they have to say about it, about how secure are the documents.
Very! We take security very seriously. A layered security architecture ensures that only people you authorize can view or modify a document.
Of course all this free. You can take a tour here and find out more details here and sign up for this here. I am excited about this, mainly because so many people I know do not have the budget to spend on the likes of Microsoft Office, and OpenOffice is something also a bit of an overkill or just too much hassle to download and install. So, as long as you have a stable and fast Internet connection this might just be a winner.
Having said that, I personally will not be saving any information that is important to me on their servers as I am a bit paranoid. Also the fact I already have licence’s for Microsoft Office is also a factor.
One question that does remain, would Adobe go after google now and ask them to remove the save as PDF functionality from this as they have rumored to have forces Microsoft in for Office 2007?