Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Online Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Did you know that there are some very good alternatives to Microsoft Office that do not need to be installed on your computer? And that offer online storage, so you don't even have to take a drive with you when you go out?

I am going to give a quick rundown on two of the better known ones. Google Docs and ZOHO.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets is an offering from Google that allows you to store and edit Microsoft Word compatible documents and Excel compatible spreadsheets online at Google. The good thing about Google Docs, is that if you already have an account with Google, you do not need to sign up again, as your current Google or Gmail login will work fine. The downside is that they only do documents and spreadsheets.

Zoho on the other hand does so much more. Word processor, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, project management, planning software, invoicing, business reporting and the list goes on. All of which are free to use. They also offer free storage of your data. Signing up is easy, as you can either setup an account with Zoho or you can sign in using either your Yahoo account or your Google account. Personal use of the word processor, spreadsheets and presentations are free and include 1gb of storage. Additional storage is available for a fee. Most of the other applications are limited in some way, some, such as the project manager, only allow you to have one project for free. Others have different restrictions, such as you only get to do the first 5 invoices for free.

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Are these a full replacement for Microsoft Office or another desktop oriented Office style application suite? Not totally, but they cover 90% of the functions of Microsoft Office and most people do not use the last 10% of functions anyway. They also offer the advantage of being available from any internet connected computer and your documents are stored "in the cloud", so you don't have to worry about carrying around discs or flash drives. Another significant advantage is cost. Let's face it, Microsoft Office is expensive, while these services are basically free for personal use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, you can also make a slide show/presentation with Google Docs. =).