Zoho Unafraid of Microsoft Office 2010

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-14 Print this article Print

"I'd compare MS Office to that old desktop music player," he noted, fleshing out this idea in a blog post and taking a swipe at the software giant. "Web apps like Zoho and Google add portability plus a lot more which can be compared to portable music players. The next step: Office apps becoming components within other apps."

Just as music broke free from the desktop and MP3 players to find their way onto mobile phones, Zoho believes office content will be integrated within other business apps.

For example, users working on a project who want to create documents for that project must currently move from the project management program to the office productivity suite to create and edit documents. This "context switching" is time-consuming and largely untenable in today's fast-paced work environment. Yet users still do it.

"The inherent benefit of having office apps on the browser is that users can embed that anywhere," Vegnesa told eWEEK. "Users can be more productive when office applications become features in other apps."

Zoho has been regularly creating plug-ins and other tools to help users pull data from Microsoft's on-premise apps into the Zoho cloud context.

But as Forrester Research cited "tools not integrated into processes" as the biggest challenge for Microsoft Office, pointing to the lack of contextual integration in that suite.

Vegnesa believes that could be a stumbling block for the big Microsoft machine as it tries to move Office 2010 forward. Microsoft, he said, fears componentization because it has a $19 billion cash cow to protect.  

By contrast, Zoho integrates its office apps into its own business apps and opened the same APIs its uses internally to its partners. For example Central Desktop integrated Zoho's spreadsheet application into their collaboration app. The spreadsheet section is served by Zoho, with the data coming from Central Desktop's servers.

Still, that same Forrester Research piece acknowledges that unseating Microsoft now that Office 2010 has a cloud computing component will be a most difficult task for challengers such as Google Apps and Zoho. The researcher said only 3 percent of 115 large and SMB shops surveyed said they use Zoho.

That's OK for Zoho. Vegnesa told eWEEK this cloud computing market won't be decided in a year or two. Zoho is in it for the long haul.



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