When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

16 October 2006

Computerworld reviews Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Computerworld reviews Google Docs and Spreadsheets, formerly known as Writely, and concludes "good concept, but far from ready for prime time":
Looking for a free word processor and spreadsheet? Google's newly released Docs & Spreadsheets suite that offers just that, but in this case you get what you pay for. While the number-crunching power of Spreadsheets is adequate for simple workbooks, the Docs program (formerly Writely, acquired by Google earlier this year) is so underpowered we wouldn't recommend it for even casual use.

We tested the program pair with Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Opera 9, and Firefox 1.5. While our testing of Google Spreadsheets left us generally pleased... Google Docs didn't impress us. Furthermore, we encountered so many performance problems that we hesitate to use the programs in any but the most desperate circumstances.

For example, we were repeatedly stymied by a "Network error" message that prevented us from saving our work or even performing a spell check (since Docs must save the document first). Likewise, "Unable to connect to the network" left us frustrated and at a dead end. Worrying about whether your documents and spreadsheets will be available and hoping they won't disappear or be corrupted is no way to work.

I've been using "Google Docs and Spreadsheets" since the Writely days, and while I wouldn't be quite as harsh in my assessment as the Computerworld reporter, I have to agree that I'd never rely on these applications for primary use.

Still... it is very, very clear to me that network-delivered applications are the future, and that the tottering baby steps being taken now are in no way indicative of what offerings are going to look like in a few years.

By the way, if you're looking for an amazingly terrific free word processor, spreadsheet, and office application suite, the newest version of OpenOffice (2.04) just became available.

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