Live Documents update: Sounding better all the time

On the assumption that not everyone reads comments, I wanted to post a comment here that was made in response to my earlier post on Live Documents. Net net: Live Documents is much more interesting than I had originally supposed. In fact, I just registered for an account. Here's why.

Is Live Documents simply a competitor to Microsoft Word? No:

[W]e offer the entire Office suite - online equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint - and not just Word as you have mentioned. If it was only Word then yes, many of your points on create vs. collaborate are true but it is far more complex when your data is in a spreadsheet or presentation.

What about the limitations inherent in being a pureplay SaaS/browser-based model?

...[W]hen we say that we are an "online" Office suite, we are not limiting ourselves to just a browser-centric experience. While we do offer a browser-based service that offers functionality equivalent to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, we also offer a client application that makes your existing version of Microsoft Office web-enabled.

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Microsoft's Hotmail founder goes for the (wrong) Office jugular with Live Documents

Sabeer Bhatia, one of the co-founders of Hotmail (bought by Microsoft for $400 million ten years ago), is on a mission to lobotomize Microsoft's $20 billion Office business. He has an uphill climb.

Bhatia is behind Live Documents, a web-based competitor to Microsoft Word, which purports to offer enterprises an upgrade path beyond the $400/seat offer from Microsoft. The question is, "Don't we already have Google Docs for this?"

Designed to help consumers avoid expensive upgrades and to foster collaboration on a secure internet platform, Live Documents matches features found in Office 2007, the most recent version. It will be given away to individuals with 100MB of free data storage space per user. Companies will pay for the system, either hosted remotely or on an internal server, at a discount to Microsoft?s licensed technology. Aricent, an Indian software services group with 6,700 employees, is the first client.… Read more

Giving thanks: Top 9 Windows utilities

Writing up a list of items for which I'm thankful is such a cliche at this time of year...that I can't pass up the opportunity to add my own contribution to the Thanksgiving fray. I have very little need for 3D turkey screensavers, but luckily, there are a few more valuable applications listed on CNET upon which I can bestow appropriate tribute.

In honor of Thanksgiving week, I've decided to serve up a heaping helpful of my nine "most useful" Windows utilities on the site. Now, notice that I didn'… Read more

Cubicle dwellers, rejoice: A game chair for you

This item is something of a mystery to us, for we know of no one who does anything but work at their office desk. But for some reason Pyramat, which manufactures game chairs for the home, has created a version for the cubicle as well.

At first glance the "Pyramat Wireless PC Gaming Chair 2.1" looks like a typical black vinyl chair that can be found at any OfficeMax, complete with pneumatic lift. But it actually has speakers built into the headrest and controls discreetly tucked away in one of the armrests, according to Coolest-Gadgets.

A word … Read more

IBM updates free Symphony suite

IBM is releasing an update today to its free Lotus Symphony productivity suite, which remains in beta testing.

The three desktop applications, Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations, are counterparts to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The latest iteration of Symphony is supposed to be faster than its predecessor, which debuted less than two months ago.

The package is one of several low-cost or free alternatives to Microsoft Office. Unlike products such as ThinkFree, Zoho and Google Docs & Spreadsheets, there is no online component to Symphony.

Like its close competitor, the $79 Sun StarOffice, Symphony works on Windows and Linux computers … Read more

Microsoft Word files to speak to the blind

Microsoft and open-source site SourceForge plan to offer a free plug-in early next year that will convert Office 2007 files to the Daisy format, which translates text to speech.

The free tool will add a "Save as Daisy" option within Word 2007 and 2003. Daisy, or Digital Accessible Information System, XML files can be "read" aloud by speech synthesizers, paired with audio narration, and used to create electronic Braille. Users can navigate open-standard Daisy documents quickly by jumping between page elements such as headers and indexes.

The Daisy Consortium of 70 nonprofits has aimed since 1996 … Read more

Glide welcomes spreadsheets,

UPDATE: Glide is postponing the release of the Glide Crunch spreadsheet tool for a week. An updated version of Glide Crunch, contained in the Glide Sync download, is estimated to be available November 15. This version of the article also corrects a detail regarding how the Glide Crunch feature is downloaded.

This week, Glide (reviewed) is adding two new features to its beta Web suite, which is already 15 apps deep: Glide Crunch, which is a spreadsheet app, and support for

Glide Crunch. Wednesday, Glide launches Glide Crunch, a spreadsheet app to join its word-processing, image-editing, and presentation-building buddies that sync information between the desktop and most mobile devices, including the iPhone.

Like these, Glide's spreadsheet contains collaborative tools to share, edit, and chat about data. Why this app is not like the others: It peels away from the nearly strictly Web 2.0 nature of Glide's other apps and settles onto the computer's hard drive as part of the Glide Sync desktop download. Spreadsheets with advanced formulas and functions can be crafted online, or offline with Glide Crunch Local, then auto-synced between the two. Pivot table support is anticipated for November 21. Glide Crunch spreadsheets were designed to be compatible with Microsoft Excel imports and exports. Check back tomorrow on CNET to download Glide Crunch.… Read more

Cubicles that crush the soul

And you thought your dark, cramped, dusty workspace was depressing. Have a look at the winners of the Wired News Saddest-Cubicle Contest, and get ready to appreciate your own scrappy little cube anew.

After all, it doesn't get too much worse than David Gunnells' cubicle (or does it?). The first-place winner of the contest, an IT guy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, spends his days in a windowless conference room, his desk hemmed in by heavily used filing cabinets. He sits near a poorly ventilated bathroom and shares a wall with a parking garage. His mother-in-law was … Read more

Microsoft upgrades its Office for Mac upgrade offer

Correction 2:10 p.m. PDT: This blog initially misstated the savings for buyers of Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher edition if they choose to upgrade to the 2008 Special Media Edition. The savings would be $350.

Microsoft has improved on an earlier offer to those who buy Office 2004 for Mac before the new version of Office is released in January.

In September, the company said it would offer buyers of Office 2004 an upgrade to the comparable version of Office 2008 for the cost of shipping and handling.

Now, those who purchase Office 2004 for Mac … Read more

Dwight Schrute gets a 'Second Life,' still needs a first one

On Thursday night's episode of The Office on NBC, dweeby Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson) revealed himself to be a Second Life addict--something that doesn't require any suspension of disbelief.

The Second Life banter began when Dwight's notably less nerdy co-worker, Jim (played by John Krasinski), asked Dwight if he was "playing that game again."

"Second Life is not a game," Dwight replied authoritatively. "It is a multi-user virtual environment. It doesn't have points or scores; it doesn't have winners or losers."

With all the deadpan wit that'… Read more