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Zoho: Office Suite Game Changer

Posted on 8.28.2007

Web workers have a need for best of breed software such as word processors, spreadsheets, presentations. The problem is that top of the line software can be very expensive which makes free online office suite products such as ThinkFree and Foldera attractive to many smaller enterprises looking to provide themselves and their employees the same (relatively) functionality as solutions provide by Microsoft Office. Some of us need even more advanced solutions like database functionality for our websites however, wiki's and CRM software to to name just two which can add a few zero's to the investment we make in providing workers the best software possible. While many opt to utilize completely open-source solutions they find in the end that commercial solutions are traditionally more stable and worth the investment of time integrating and learning.

Increasingly however, online office suite products and Web-based applications for Internet-based workers have been generating attention and for good reason - they provide a similar (some would argue better) experience at a price point they can afford. This makes this trend a game changer for many small and medium businesses. I've been meaning to write about my experience with Zoho, the increasingly popular web office suite for quite some time, but each and every time I start, they seem to roll out either another application or feature which brings me back to phase one. As such, let's look at the office suite products provided by Zoho right now because more than anyone else they are a real game changer and if I wait any longer they will roll out another service and I'll have to start new all over again.

All Zoho applications are web-native, meaning no client-side software is required (no download). All you need is a browser and an Internet connection (perfect for those who are always on the road). It's also a real boon to those needing some level of collaboration on the documents or projects they are working on. Currently all of the Zoho applications are free to use but some products such as CRM and Projects have fee based "Pro" levels. The list of Zoho products is simply staggering:

Word Processor (Zoho Writer), Online Spreadsheets (Zoho Sheet), Online Presentations (Zoho Show), Web Conferencing (Zoho Meeting), Online Note Taker (Zoho Notebook), Online Organizer (Zoho Planner), Project Management Software (Zoho Projects - one project free), CRM Solution (Zoho CRM), Database Application Creator (Zoho Creator), Group Wiki's (Zoho Wiki), and Group Chat (Zoho Chat).

Some other interesting Zoho features:

- Provides an API for Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show
- Offers a plugin which integrates Zoho into Microsoft Word and Excel
- Released a mobile version of Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show called iZoho
- One of the few online services currently working with Google Gears

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