The battle starts with these words from Michael Robertson, “Bye Bye Microsoft Word, Hello ajaxWrite”. You gotta love his showmanship. From relentlessly tweaking the music Industry with MP3.com to taking on MS with Lindows and hitting them up for 20 million dollars to go away. Back when I was publishing MP3 Impact Micheal was always good for a great quote or interesting story lead on slow news weeks. Recently, I’ve come to think of his projects as a little less ambitious then his earlier goals of turning the music industry on its head or revamping the desktop but this weeks release of ajaxWrite has reminded me that ain’t nothing changed.
Targeted directly at MS Word, ajaxWrite can best be thought of as Writely meets MS Word. Its got about 50% of Writely‘s functionality and 100% of MS Word’s look-and-feel. In fact it was the look that was the most striking to me. I kept clinking over to the “real” MS Word to see if I had somehow gotten myself mixed up with the application I was using. Michael, as always, seems to be begging for a fight. The intro to the site reads: “The look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Word, in a completely web-based AJAX platform.” Personally, as much as I love to see Michael go at it, I would rather he add spell check to ajaxWrite then look for ways to piss-off Microsoft’s lawyers.
Some of the more relavent problems with the services include the lack of functionality for publishing online, which was a bit annoying since I wrote this post with ajaxWrite and had to copy and paste it into Writely in order to spell check and publish it to my blog. There are also no collaboration tools and no visible method of storing or sharing the documents online. For an application that is using the Internet as the means of killing off the bloatware that is Word, it is surprisingly PC centric. While the ability to save files in either Word or PDF formats on the PC is kinda cool, it would be much better to save them as HTML on a website or into an online locker.
Of course, this is just a hint of things to come from the Don Quixote of Internet businesses, taking on the giants (and windmills) no one else dares. I for one cant wait for more.