How do Web Applications Line up?

In the last article, I promised a chart to show how the web-based application of Google and Zoho lined up with Microsoft‘s offerings. This will help in determining whether your company’s technology strategy might benefit from web-based products.

Microsoft Google Zoho
Word Docs Writer
Excel Docs Sheet
Outlook Gmail/Calendar Mail/Planner
Publisher Page Creator  
PowerPoint Presentations Show
Access   Creator
OneNote Notebook Notebook
Search Search  
Chat Chat Chat
  Web Alerts  
  Reader (RSS)  
Maps Maps  

As you can see, the basics are covered, with extras from Google and Zoho. In fairness to Microsoft, they are adding new web-based applications as part of their Live website, but the purpose of this series is to determine if expensive desktop software can be replaced by free or in-expensive web-applications.

Not a Perfect Match

You will notice that each application doesn’t have a perfect match across the board, but in most cases, there is a program that is related in functions. Some of the distinctions between the programs are covered in previous articles in the series, but I’ll take a closer look at the main applications that are shared between all the contenders.

Specifically, I will continue the series with a look at real-life use of the word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and mail/calendar programs. Do these programs translate into everyday use, or are they just not adequate?

Tip of the Iceberg

There are many other web-based applications in daily use by thousands of people. This list of Microsoft, Google, and Zoho products is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of applications reside on the web, and in the coming months, I will write about them, too.

This Web-Based Application series serves one purpose—to whet your appetite to the possibilities—to begin the discussion of what can be done with programming code and a little secret sauce.

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A Closer Look at Google Web Applications

Most people are familiar with Google’s Gmail application. It is lightweight, easy to use, and accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. It has redefined the word webmail for those of us using it daily. Some reasons: Conversation mode, search, and labels are a few of the tools that make it the killer web-application for most businesses.

Gmail might be the application that launched Google into the web software business, but is certainly wasn’t the last. With more than a baker’s dozen of applications, Google has jumped into this market completely. A few applications overlap with the Zoho list from yesterday, but others are solely Google’s.

Here is the list for Google.

  1. Search—Web search toolGoogle Search
  1. Docs—Feature-rich word processor
  2. Spreadsheets—Fully functioning spreadsheetGDocsandSheets
  3. Gmail—Webmail done rightGmail
  4. Calendar—Calendar on steroidsGCalendar
  5. Page Creator—Web-page creator
  6. Notebook—Collect all your web “stuff” into one place
  7. Desktop—Local search, including network drives
  8. Picasa—Photo software + web photosPicasa
  9. Blogger—Free blogging software
  10. Groups—Water cooler gathering placeGGroups
  11. Web Alerts—See what’s said about your company on the web
  12. Reader—Bring the web to youGReader
  13. Maps—Find an address and get directions
  14. Chat—Real-time communication

The more you look at the features of this new breed of online software applications, the more you see the value. They are very robust and combined with other packages, make up a comprehensive collection of business software. The best part … the cost. All of these Google applications are free to use, even for a company.

I use many of these daily, and find them more than adequate for business use. The newest application I use is Google Alerts. I have set up searches for my name, company, and product lines. Google scours the Internet, gathers every instance of matching criteria and sends me an email with links and brief descriptions of the articles. This keeps me in touch with what is said about me or the company, allowing me to respond or ignore at my discretion.

Are you starting to feel overwhelmed with the choices out there, just waiting for your company to try? First, determine what company processes can benefit from the advantages of online software. Second, run a limited, controlled test with the application to make sure it is capable of doing the job. Third, put together an implementation plan for bringing the application to the rest of the employees.

Next, I’ll show you how the products from Zoho and Google map to your current products. It will give you a better picture of which applications you want to look at first.

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Zoho’s New Business Product

zoho1.GIFLast week, I began a series on web-based applications for businesses, focusing on Google and Zoho. In today’s article I focus on the Zoho product line, showing the diversity of their applications. Next up, I’ll take a closer look at the applications available from Google.

Last night, I received an email from Zoho announcing their new product lineup being announced at the Office 2.0 conference today.


They are announcing the next evolution in their web-based office suite—Zoho Business and Zoho Personal. Below is the news release giving details on the differences between the two products.

Currently, Zoho has a broad set of applications for individuals and business users and today we are categorizing them and defining our business model. To start with, Zoho Applications will be categorized into two – Zoho Personal & Zoho Business.

Zoho Personal is what we offer today for individuals. As we said previously, our applications will continue to remain free for individuals.

Zoho Business (ZB) is the new category we are launching and it is aimed at small & mid-sized businesses. ZB will be available in two versions – Free & Pro. Below are some of the highlights of Zoho Business.

  • Company level Admin Console
  • Domain Management (for pointing your domains to Zoho Apps)
  • Centralized User and Group Management
  • Single Sign-on across several Zoho Apps
  • Zoho Apps include Writer, Sheet, Show, Wiki, Notebook, Email, Cal, Tasks, Planner, Viewer, Chat etc.
  • Customization Options
  • Multiple levels of Security including SSL
  • Remote Backup
  • Telephone Support and more.

Zoho Business is currently in private beta with a planned public beta launch in October, 2007. Pricing is yet to be determined for the Pro version, but if it’s anything like their prices before, I’m sure it will be reasonable. As you can see, they are going after the small to mid-size business customer, moving them directly into the path of Microsoft.

A Closer Look at Zoho Web Applications

zoho-logo-512pxToday, a closer at the web applications available from Zoho. As you can see from the list below, they offer an easy dozen products today with several more in the pipeline.

If you are a candidate for web-based applications, Zoho is one of the products suites you will want to test. I have personally used Writer, Sheet, CRM, Meeting, and Notebook and find they have more features than I need, with familiar interfaces.

Look at the online applications available from Zoho today.

  1. Writer—feature-rich word processor
  2. Sheet—spreadsheet full of functions ZohoSheet capture
  3. Show—create, edit, publish, and show your presentation ZohoShow capture
  4. Wiki—WYSIWYG Wiki made for groups
  5. Notebook—Collect all your web “stuff” into one place ZohoNotebookcapture
  6. Meeting—Web conferencing that works quick and easy
  7. Projects—Project management to manage and share
  8. CRM—Great Customer Relationship software application
  9. Creator—Online database creator: build forms, collect data and manage
  10. Planner—Manage your to-dos, reminders and notes online
  11. Chat—Group collaboration from your computer
  12. Mail—(private beta) Email, documents, calendar and more.

Run A Business?

Business web applications need to meet particular criteria.

  1. Easy to use (no added training budget)
  2. Have features your employees use (tables, calculations, etc.)
  3. Work as well as your desktop software (responsive to the keyboard)
  4. Have easy access to files (no fiddling to get started)
  5. Provide great technical support (quick call answered by knowledgeable workers)

My experience using these applications from Zoho, show these products are easy-to-use, reliable, and responsive. I’ve never needed customer support, so I can’t speak to that, except as a beta tester.

I was part of the beta testing for Meeting. In testing, I found several issues that needed addressing and my emails were always answered promptly with the information I needed. Web calls and chat sessions were available at that time, also. Bottom line, they wanted their product to work properly when opened for public consumption.

Are You Ready?

If you aren’t using these products to save money and improve your company’s productivity, thus adding dollars to the bottom line, you may be missing the latest wave from technology.

I encourage you to open up to a new way of thinking about your computers, software, and servers.

I can hear you now, “I just don’t buy into this whole Web 2.0 thing. I don’t trust these companies to be in business very long.” Those are fair comments, and if you’ll stick around for a few more articles in the series, I’ll get to that, also.

Next, Google and their Ready-for-Business applications.

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