We’re in a recession right now; so, who wants to spend $500 on software? According to Time magazine, many companies and individual consumers still opt for costly software like Microsoft Office, though they rarely or never utilize all of the functions provided. An alternative to software, however, is making its way into the mainstream: web-based software.
Two notable providers of online software are Google Apps and Zoho, both of which offer downloadable word processors, spreadsheets, document management and presentation tools (among other things) that emulate the applications of Microsoft Office. And the best part about web-based software is that it’s completely free. Most of us are used to MS Office—that’s why we keep coming back. I, for one, have downloaded a 90-day free trial of MS Office 2007 on my home computer, which allows me to use the most up-to-date software without spending a dime. Of course, if you opt to use a free trial, you must also remember to check the box that will prompt you to buy the software once your trial expires, instead of the one that will automatically renew your software and charge you.
But there are also advantages to browser-based applications. “Because the applications reside on the Web, developers can quickly eliminated bugs and add bells and whistles, like the ability to insert headers, footers and pagination…” writes Anna Hamilton (Time). Riding the trend train, Microsoft is expected to put out a free, light version of its software on the Web by 2010. It’s a long way off. When my MS Office free trial ends in January, I’m not planning on renewing my software. At least until Microsoft puts its apps online, we can utilize Google Apps and Zoho without hesitation.