Fairly recently, in a blog entitled "Working Without Your Laptop," I talked about how one could leverage the power of web applications. Specifically, I demonstrated how I have been using iGoogle (or Google Office) during the few times that I do not have my laptop with me. In this month's issue of MacWorld, the magazine did not only feature the power of Google Office but even highly recommended it. Here is an image of page 61 of MacWorld's August issue:
And here is the text of the article's introduction:
Imagine being able to access all your important documents from any computer with an Internet connection-or never having to buy, install, or upgrade office software again. You may already use a web-based e-mail service instead of an e-mail client, but the next programs to go online very well be your word processor and your spreadsheet program you can now get a lot done with only a humble browser.
The idea of behind web applications is simple: rather than running on your computer, a web application runs on a server-you interact with it through your browser. These programs don't need to be updated and maintained on individual computers, and since your files are also stored on the server, you can access them from anywhere without schlepping a disk around.
Google is the biggest and best-known company that's generating buzz for a growing collection of web applications. It includes a word processor called Doc's in a spreadsheet program cold spreadsheets along a calendar called Google calendar: and, of course, a web-based e-mail service Gmail. The price for all these programs is a whopping $0.
Can these Web applications replace your $399 copy of Microsoft office? If you have a slow or unreliable Internet connection, the answer is definitely no. But most people who do some word processing or spreadsheet work can benefit from Google's programs- either as a compliment to office or, in some cases, as a replacement.
I find this article to be a validation of what I have been blogging about all along - that web applications have matured enough to be extremely useful. A fully customized iGoogle virtual workspace (accessed through a bookmark in Firefox) is now the default homepage in all of my computers to include the recently installed Carputer.
But all of these powerful applications do not come without their downside. According to Mac world, your documents and spreadsheets may not be totally secured. They may be compromised in the event that Google outsources some of its maintenance requirements. That is precisely why highly confidential documents should stay in your physical hard drive and password-protected. However, the last time I checked, I do not have many of those. Of course, your mileage may vary.
If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you give Google Office its much-deserved spin. All you need is a Gmail account and a fairly fast Internet connection. Besides, you'll never know when that laptop, full of all your favorite applications, will one day just say, "break time."