Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thinkfree, OpenOffice, Google Spreadsheets, Sparc and Dekoh

I have been an active user of OpenOffice for quite some time now.  I use it often not because I am in love with its functionality but because of principle :).  MSOffice is just too expensive and when there is an alternative that offers me almost all the functionality of Office, why shouldn't I switch?  Well, the problem is that I am so used to MS Office that I somehow manage with the old version of Office XP for many of my needs.  Moreover, OpenOffice is too heavy on computing requirements and its GUI is not very intuitive. So I am always looking out for more alternatives.

Apart from OpenOffice I have also been an active user of Google's word-processor.  I had fallen in love with its collaborative features and online capabilities.  I feel online collaboration is the future going forward for such applications.  Multiple users can work on the same document and in the academic setting that I exist, that makes a lot of sense.  However, it has limitations on the size of documents and does not include many of the advanced features available on OpenOffice and MC Office.

Yesterday, I got exposed to ThinkFree through the webtop application Sparc.  ThinkFree UI was more closer to MS Office and it seemed to place a lesser burden on my war-lorn laptop than OpenOffice.  Sparc is a self-contained webtop that offers a number of features, and in that sense you can think of it as a desktop emulator. Being one of the early-bird subscribers, I also got subscription to a 50 GB virtual hard drive for a year.  Although the interface works as a stand alone app and takes up system resources, I found the apps very cool and well thought out. 

Pramati's Dekoh (although not in the same category) uses the browser for the UI, thereby reducing the burden on resource requirements. However, the breadth of apps featured on Dekoh are limited compared to what Sparc offers. Although they do not compete on similar features - they are looking for the same customers is my opinion.
The Dekoh UI is very minimalistic in its approach and that is definitely a rarity in Web 2.0 products. Sparc seems kind of fun to use, but its UI seems too cluttery. The calendar app in dekoh did not let me sync with google calendar and kept throwing an error saying my login details were incorrect and/or my internet connection was broken. Dekoh's UI allowed em to go the forums directly and post a query.  They are yet to get back to me.  Sparc provided me a contact from its chat applications that allowed me to send customer support requests to their team directly.  They were pretty quick in getting back with answers.

Well, each has its goods and bads.  I wish Dekoh survives in the long haul.

More as I get used to the products

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