Before I say anything, I want to prefix this post by stating that I am an Advisor to Zoho, which can be perceived as a competitor to Ulteo, the company that just announced providing OpenOffice On-Demand. That said, I often I’ve repeatedly stated my belief that we’re at a state of early expansion for Software as a Service, and for now, the more players the better. It’s not about slicing the pie yet, it’s about making sure the pie will be huge:

Summing it all up, I believe the winner of the “on-demand race” will not be Google, Zoho, or any of their competitors – the winners will be the customers who will have a lot more choice in picking the right business solutions later this year.

So I am happy to see new On-Demand offerings that work – and am royally p***ed when they don’t. I tried to use Ulteo, repeatedly. At the first attempt in the morning, I got stuck with a blank screen:

Next I tried in the evening: I spent a minute or so at the above blank screen, but finally I got some signs of life:

Oops… I don’t know of another instance, I don’t have Openoffice installed on this machine, and a Vista glitch forced me to reboot since my early morning attempt with Ulteo. And I certainly have no clue who the *** user u7670 is or how I should close Openoffice for this user on the Ulteo servers. But let’s click Yes to continue anyway:

Why am I in document recovery mode and just what is it I am about to recover? Finally, I got into this somewhat broken screen:

Not a very positive experience, if you ask me. On the other hand, it’s still more than the previous web-office “announcement”: Live Documents, which is still to materialize…some time next year.

Like I said, I am happy to see more On-Demand services. Those that actually exist, and perhaps even work.smile_eyeroll

Update: Jason Brooks at eWeek had similar experience.


  1. Zoli,
    Not sure what you mean by “Live Documents is still to materialize” – if you are saying that we are not yet available to the general public, then yes, that is true but that is simply because we want to completely develop and fine-tune our solution prior to letting folks use it in their daily lives…we don’t want to release it prematurely and face responses like this – – for our 1.0 version much less our 2.0 version!
    Incidentally, our present on-invitation beta version – what we refer to as a technology preview – already has features such as animations and slide transitions and the ability to round-trip to/from PowerPoint.
    For the Live Documents team

  2. Sumanth,

    Thanks for commenting here. I agree, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to completely develop the product first… but there was too much hype already, and frankly, some of it not on your behalf, but by the media and bloggers who now refer the Live Documents as “launched”, without fact-checking.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the actual product 🙂

  3. Meh… I had similar experiences with both Zoho and Thinkfree in their early days; both seem to have recovered/corrected, so I don’t think much conclusion can be reached, apart from, “It’s easy to underestimate the complexity of deploying online apps, and easy to announce just a little to early.”

  4. I have had the range of similar experiences with Google Docs and Zoho. Zoho has gotten better along the track of its development and I will say that of the open source CRM applications I prefer Zoho in terms of stability and features. If they have a sustainable business model, I think the level of improvement will continue for Zoho. I know it has for Sugar, Vtiger I am not so sure. It seems more buggy than the others.

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