Sunday, 15 May 2011

All change in the office

It started with me looking for the best ‘office’ application to run under Honeycomb (Android 3) on a tablet – but I got sidetracked. It seems that Oracle has dumped OpenOffice, and Microsoft has a beta of Office 365 – it’s new cloud variant of the ubiquitous office software.

Oracle has given OpenOffice back to the user community, while at the same time strongly supporting open standards such as ODF (Open Document Format). Oracle got OpenOffice with its acquisition of Sun Microsystems a few months ago. Last September, unhappy community members set up the Document Foundation and LibreOffice. There was some talk of Oracle rewriting OpenOffice using JavaFX, but nothing seems to have come of that. There was also talk of Oracle cloud office, but again that seems to have sunk without trace. You can download the latest LibreOffice version from

It’s worth noting that IBM is a fan of OpenOffice. IBM did try to sell the office suite it got from its Lotus acquisition. Word Pro was based on Ami Pro, which Lotus had got from acquiring Samna back in 1990. In 2007, IBM introduced Lotus Symphony, which included a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation program. Version 3 came out in October last year.

Google Apps free offers Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sites (to create Web sites and group wikis), and Google Docs (for online documents, presentations, and spreadsheets). Google Apps for Business offers Google Apps Marketplace, Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office, and more.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is moving ahead with a cloud version of its Office software. You can join the beta program for Office 365 at

The Office 365 beta is a subscription service providing Office Web apps and online communications and collaboration services. So you get Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus e-mail and calendar facilities, team sites (like SharePoint), and instant messaging and online meetings. Look out for Microsoft Lync 2010, which replaces Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting.

And remember, to sound like you know about cloud computing, say things like Software as a Service (SaaS) and Windows Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage and processing platform.

If you’re tempted, Office 365 Small Business costs $6 per user per month. Google Apps for Business cost is cheaper at $60 per year or there’s a free version. On the other hand, it can be argued that the Microsoft offering is more complete and Google’s lacks Outlook integration. It all depends on how dedicated a Microsoft site you’re at or how keen you’ve been to embrace Google’s products.

Now, what am I going to put on that tablet?

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