Friday, January 19, 2007

Office 2008

In 2007, people are not looking for a better way to type and print a document, make a spreadsheet or run Powerpoint inside the browser. They can do it on their desktop/laptop efficiently and it works damn well. And it's gotten even better with the improved Office 2007.

The office environment of 2008 would involve lots of working from home, working with far-flung colleagues and (at least for me) customers in all corners of the world (Israel, Germany, US and - hopefully soon - India and S. Africa too). My version of the web office suite for 2008 would let you:
  1. Blog: A better, faster, easier way to blog. Lots of tools available. My personal favorite in this category is WordPress or Lyceum.
  2. Show and edit webpages: An easier way to show and edit documents inside and outside companies. Show as in show on a webpage. Drupal is an excellent Content Management System, but MediaWiki is just wonderful when it comes to layout of pages on the web.
  3. Show and edit graphs: An easier way to put graphs full of information on a web page - a mix of numbers, text and pictures. No real good solution yet but you can build one using Crystal xCelsius or Adobe Flex.
  4. Share desktop easily: GoToMeeting, WebEx etc. are decent but they are made for one-to-many settings. Groove had some great functionality for this type of stuff, but it was before its time.
  5. Interactive presentation: Showing slides via WebEx is boring if it works and mighty annoying when it doesn't. It would be much, much, much easier if we could generate Flash-based interactive presentations easily. There isn't much that lets you do that as yet.
So who has the best suite with the above functionality? No one, as far as I can tell. Does anyone have plans? Not really. God knows what Microsoft is doing with Live. Google Spreadsheets and JotSpot etc. are quite useless. You can use Flex and xCelsius for (3) and (5) above, but both are pricey and unfriendly for non-programmers.

Open source stands a chance to win this battle, especially with their stranglehold on (1) and (2). But there isn't anything in the open source world for (3), (4) or (5).

Update: I really like this WebEx plugin for Yahoo Messenger. I'm sure SameTime will have something like this soon.

Update: Since the release of QEDWiki from IBM, it seems like IBM is pulling it all together. It looks boring and not half as cool as the more mature open-source offerings, but it's a damn good start.

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