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Robertson Launches Online Version Of MS Word

Michael Robertson, of MP3.com and Lindows - eek, we mean Linspire - 'fame' has today announced AJAXWord, an online Word processing app.

Robertson claims that the company has developed a library of AJAX based Office apps, that it will be launching over the coming weeks at AJAXLaunch.com. He wrote on his weblog that "

ajaxWrite is a powerful word processor that can read and write Microsoft Word formatted documents. Anytime you need a word processor, need to open a .doc file or edit a .doc file, simply point your Firefox browser at ajaxWrite.com and in seconds a full-featured program will be loaded. For 90 percent of the people in the world, the need to buy Microsoft Word just vanished. This won't make Microsoft happy, but software users should be very excited that software just got cheaper, immediate and modern."

Helpfully, Robertson also wrote "

As you probably surmised from the names ajaxLaunch and ajaxWrite, we are using AJAX technology to deliver this software magic." In case you missed it, they use Ajax. Hence the name.

We were quite optimistic to try out the latest offering from Robertson. After all, and online version of MS Word that was free surely had some market disruption power towards one of Microsoft's cash cows. However, slowly pondering previous offerings from his companies, we had quite low expectations for AJAXWrite, which were duly delivered. The claimed 'six second load time' was far from met, as the site struggled under the load of internet interest. We'll leave the user to ponder what'd be the effect of a medium - large company using the product all day long. When we did get it to load, in fairness, it did look surprisingly like Microsoft Word - what would be described as a familiar interface for any office worker. And, again, to be quite fair, it did function reasonably well. The menus were snappy, and you could easily be lulled into believing that you were, in fact, running the program locally. What functions it did offer seemed to be usable. That was, of course, till we tried to save our document. And it crashed Firefox, and the previous version of this report along with it. Very annoying*.

Sure, you'll say, an isolated incident. You're probably right. However, it brought home a deeper problem. Whilst AJAXWord superficially appears to be a good substitution for Word, the most basic exploration reveals serious deficiencies that few IT decision makers would accept. Microsoft Word, whilst obviously costing money, delivers certain functions that even the most clever AJAX apps can't match; Robertson's claim that most user's needs will be met simply doesn't hold.

* = Microsoft Word's auto-save feature, by the way, would have caught the document when it crashed, and saved this journalist's from having to write the story twice. We'll keep paying.

View: Michael's Minute

View: AJAXWrite

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