Todd Bishop blogged about Steve Ballmer's recent statements concerning the competition between Microsoft and Google. Bishop gave an assessment I've read so often since Microsoft's announcement of Office Live Workspace. Typically expressions such as "online editing" or "online collaboration" are mentioned then. And they would usually say that Google does it but Microsoft does not. I never understood what they are talking about. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.

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I am citing a paragraph of Todd Bishops' post because it is typical for this kind of discussion:

Microsoft's recently announced Office Live Workspace collaboration and storage service has drawn comparisons to Google Docs, but the Microsoft service won't allow for actual online editing. Instead it will work through the traditional desktop-based Microsoft Office programs for that.

So what exactly could be meant by "online editing" and what is the difference to "working through the traditional desktop-based Microsoft Office programs"? When I tried Google Docs, I didn't edit my text "online". I just edited it in my "traditional desktop-based Firefox" and then it was saved on a file server somewhere "in the cloud". I did the same with my "traditional desktop-based Word" long before Google even existed.

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I really would like to try this "online editing". Can someone please tell me how it works?

  1. Leonardo 14 years ago

    Online anything makes me nervous.
    A good example is the latest loss of customer information by an online app company.
    What happens when there's a connectivity problem? You just don't do any work?
    The cloud can blow away, my desktop is right here.

  2. piyo 14 years ago

    "Online editing" is coerced to mean that the client is not heavyweight. You don't have to install specialized software to use it, you just need "a browser". Plus you don't need your collaborators to have the same setup as you. Of course the assumption is that you have a browser and it is compatible. You could conceivably work on it away from your regular environment (eg Internet Cafe, "cellphone"). For example, I'm typing this from SystemRescueCD's FireFox, a read-only environment.

  3. Beijing IT 14 years ago

    A very popular function, if you did website, you will understand its methods of work!

  4. m$ 14 years ago

    The colaboration service that he is talking about is actually sharepoint portal server, which is based for sharing / versioning documents, unlike google docs which allows you to edit the documents online.
    M$ thinks that people will use their installed software (office, etc) and just use sharepoint for collaboration, hence the lack of online editing capabilities.

  5. Leonardo, you’re right. There are many disadvantages of working with servers somewhere in the cloud. This is nothing new, though. We are just talking about outsourcing backend apps. Companies have been doing this ever since networks are available. I don’t see that Google has something new to offer here to help solve all these problems. The fact that you can use a Web browser to access these apps, is not really helpful.

    Piyo, I just edited a template of this blog. I used notepad and it was saved via SFTP on a remote server somewhere in a big computer center in another city. Notepad is even smaller than any web browser I know and I didn’t have to install it separately. And since it was just a plain text file, I could have done the same from any other machine on the internet using the editor of my choice. Was this online editing?

    Beijing IT. I am not sure if I understand what you mean, but I guess you mean that web-based apps are very popular. You’re right about that. But I would just call it a hype. In my view, web-based apps will soon be replaced by RIAs.

    M$, you’re probably talking about the feature of Google docs that allows users to edit the same text simultaneously. I am not a Sharepoint expert, but I guess you’re right. It doesn’t have such a feature. However, I wonder who really needs this. Doesn’t this only produce chaos? Collaboration means that people work together on a project, not that they are all doing the same thing simultaneously. If I remember it right, Google docs doesn’t even display the changes that have been made by others. And it is not possible to accept or reject certain changes. I would consider this as essential when it comes to “online collaboration”. IMHO, Word and Sharepoint support online collaboration, but Google docs does not.

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