If you have not had a chance to check out Google Docs (online Word Processor + Spreadsheet) and Google’s Calendar, you should. Besides being free, these Google tools are web based so once you save a document or schedule a meeting, you will be able to access it anywhere there is an internet connection & a web browser.
Does that mean no more silly software to install on your computer? If so, the best part would be no more OS compatibility issues. One can argue that your web browser now becomes your OS but web based applications that are truly OS independent will definitely make it easier on folks who work remotely online. This is a biggie for me right now since Windows Vista is not compatible with many of the software products that I use on a day-to-day basis. I guess you can also look at it the other way around in that the software titles are not compatible with Windows Vista. Either way, it is still a headache for someone who rely on a computer (& the software installed in it) for work.
I must say the coolest thing about Google Docs is that collaborators (users who you invite to share your documents & spreadsheets) can work on & edit the file with you at the same time! See the numbers in your spreadsheet magically update as your collaborators make changes. Google Docs is not nearly as sophisticated as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel but for the majority of users, these free tools will do just fine. If Google Docs gain popularity, you can bet Google will further develop and add more functionality within these applications.
It will be very interesting to see how web based applications pan out in the future. I personally believe that web based applications may one day be much more integrated with their offline counterparts – or perhaps even completely replace the need for installing software on any computer. Wouldn’t it be nice to do away with resource hogging applications that slow your machine down over time. Once broadband internet connections & nation-wide WIFI access becomes ubiquitous, the challenge then goes out to the software industry to move many of the common day computer applications to a web based model. I am confident that it is only a matter of time before web based applications becomes a mass market reality. For what it’s worth, web based applications like Quickbooks Online (accounting software) & Salesforce.com (CRM software) are gaining popularity very quickly. There is no need to install software on your machine with the exception of maybe a few browser plug-ins and you are always logging in to the latest version of the software! Neat concept huh?
Now that Google has rolled out a few of the most popular business tools, when will they launch a web based project management application complete with timeline tracking & measurable milestones? Here is hoping for something sooner rather than later!