Will Macros Support Help Zoho Draw Closer to Microsoft?

Zoho takes a page out of Microsoft's vaunted Excel playbook by adding support for Visual Basic Macros.

There is some important innovation going on in online applications.

Google recently wrapped providing online access for its spreadsheet application. Rival Zoho, which boasts 800,000 users, has just finished upgrading its own spreadsheet application with a key feature that you'll traditionally find in Microsoft.

Zoho April 28 added support for Microsoft's Visual Basic Macros and Pivot Tables in Zoho Sheet, two of the 17 or so new features for its spreadsheet application.

Zoho Evangelist Raju Vegesna told eWEEK in a briefing that the Visual Basic Macros Zoho Sheet supports are in fact that same ones users leverage in Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet. Effectively, Zoho can execute Visual Basic code at the backend without any Microsoft software involved.

This means Sheet will let users import their existing speadsheets with Excel macros or create new ones, thanks to a new VBA Editor feature in Sheet. Eventually, Zoho will add record and play features for Macros.

Check out this video to see the new Macros features in action and this new wiki, which is a marketplace for Macros.

Migrating Microsoft Malcontents

Time will tell, but this could be a slight competitive advantage for Zoho. Excel users fed up with embracing Microsoft's licensing scheme may be looking for other options. If vendors like Zoho can replicate some of the finer features in Excel, it could find disgruntled Microsoft customers migrating to their fold when their Microsoft licenses expire.

This is important because Zoho, the AdventNet company, has its hands full with the likes of Google Apps, Microsoft's raft of productivity and collaboration software, as well as Salesforce.com on the business application front. Any features Zoho can add to detract customers from those vendors is a boon.

Also, Zoho has bridged the gap between its Zoho DB and Sheet by adding support for Pivot tables and charts. This integration between Zoho Sheet and Zoho DB will let users import up to 100,000 rows of structured data to Zoho Sheet from a CSV file.

For a complete list of the new Sheet features, click here.

The Zoho Sheet upgrades come just a few business days after Zoho landed a reseller contract with Chinese retailer Baihui, which Vegesna told eWEEK is a subsidiary of PC Stars, the largest Chinese online distributor with more than 2300 resellers and over 1000 system integrators.

Baihui April 24 agreed to host and resell Zoho Apps, starting with Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show and Zoho CRM in China. Read more about it here, and check out the Chinese logos for the different apps.