Last week all the buzz was on the launch of Google Chrome, the new browser from the search engine giant, but the more exciting news might have come out of the Office 2.0 Conference 2008. First of all, yes there is actually such a thing as an Office 2.0 Conference, and this year’s event was held at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. In this day and age where e-commerce is big business there are all sorts of conferences, and this event looks at various trends including storage, going mobile and of course alternatives to off-the-shelf software.
What is interesting–and dare I say a little ironic–about the event is that the Web site for the Office 2.0 Conference 2008 included embedded links for Google Apps Account, Google Apps Inbox and even Google Calendar. OK, so many conferences include these links, and as just mentioned the conference also looked at alternatives to off-the-shelf software; namely Microsoft Office. Google’s online offerings certainly fit that bill. But the irony is that one of the key sponsors of the event was Zoho, which is poised to be a major contender in the online document space and more importantly Google’s main rival.
Zoho Docs include a plethora of applications, with everything from word processing and project management software to HRIS & Recruitment Management and Online Reporting & BI Service. Interestingly, Zoho even has nifty little apps such as Zoho Invoice and Zoho Notebook.
This level of specific application is already gaining some fans. “Zoho Docs highlights the direction we’re moving in, which favors context over applications,” said Raju Vegesna, Zoho evangelist. “When users are looking for a file, they don’t want to think about which application created it, they just want the information to be readily available.”
As with other online-based applications, Zoho Docs supports multiple file formats, allowing users to upload any file format to Zoho Docs, including ZIP and PDF. And more importantly all files uploaded to Zoho Docs are scanned for viruses. When a ZIP file is extracted in Zoho Docs, the unzipped files are stored in the defined folders.
And much like the Google applications, Zoho Docs offer the same type of split-pane interface for creating, editing, sharing, viewing, and collaborating on files. Of course users have the ability to resize the split panes to give more or less space to the Desktop, and likewise Zoho Docs support hierarchical folders as well as drag-and-drop folder management. It is also worth mentioning that Zoho isn’t limited to the traditional PC either, and the company is already offering support for Windows Mobile and the iPhone.
Zoho is further proof that there are online alternatives to traditional PC applications. Of course as a smaller company there are going to be concerns as to whether this company will be around in a decade, but while it might never reach Google status (or for that matter Microsoft’s level of dominance with MS Office) I have a good feeling. Zoho Docs could give Google a run for its money, especially as the latter continues to do so many things. Zoho, which is concentrating just on online business applications, could even go beyond what Google did in this space. Only time will tell.