With each new Google-gush, the tech set drools more at the propsect of a web-based office suite. This basically means a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation maker and database that is entirely web-based – browser-based – portable. Think of taking Gmail and extracting it into MS Office.
The concerns so far have been security, performance and (my fear) your browser crashing. The http architecture was not originally intended for this kind of durability and it’s fun seeing the developers push it to it’s limits.
The big wishlist with web-enabling or web-babe-leen is to enable easier collaboration and revision control. So instead of having to ‘check-out’ a document and then wait for someone to check it back in, you and your co-worker can both work on different parts of the same document. With revisions, comments and changes tracked in real-time or as we like to see Jack Bauer-esque.
Richard McManus summarizes it all up great in a ZDNet article:
Imagine being able to view the latest version of a collaborative Word document, via your browser window. Instead of using emails to discuss the document, it’s all done in one place – the URL of your online Word document. All changes are neatly tracked and versioned. Collaboration is happening, because there’s a single point of reference on the Web – and it’s not email!
There’s also the grail of cross-platform compatibility. That there won’t be any need to worry about Jim as Word 97 for Mac and Jane has Word XP on Windows ME. It’ll all be transparent.
Supposedly this would all be much cheaper than having to buy enterprise-wise licenses of Microsoft software – as well as managing upgrade, patches and deployments across an entire organization.
McManus hits a great hot button that this is going to significantly reduce IT staff who will have to find something else to do if suddenly an entire department of IT vanishes.