(Pic: Sabeer Bhatia, Co-Founder of Hotmail)
By Nick Mokey
The fight for the future of office suites has often been described as a one-on-one match between Google and Microsoft, but with the introduction of new competitors, the situation might better be described as an all-out brawl. Indian-based software firm InstaColl introduced its own online office suite on Wednesday, dubbed Live Documents, which closely mimics the functionality of Microsoft Office in a free online form.
So far, Live Documents includes equivalents to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Besides offering standalone online Flash-based versions of the applications, InstaColl also offers downloadable applications which â€œwrap aroundâ€ Microsoftâ€™s applications to convert them to Live Documents clients.
The intent is to serve as an intermediate step between the familiarity of Microsoft Office and the expanded functionality of an online alternative. â€œLive Documents provides a sophisticated productivity and collaboration solution for both sets of users – people who want to completely avoid Microsoft Office applications and those who wish to continue working completely within these tools.â€ said InstalColl CEO Kaushal Cavale. â€œThe real power of our solution is that it lets both sets of users work well with each other rather than create two silos working independently.â€
Currently, Live Documents is only available by invitation as a tech preview, but wide access is expected to follow shortly. The final version of Live Documents will be free for personal use with paid versions available for enterprise.
Interestingly enough, InstaColl chairman Sabeer Bhatia has a past history with Microsoft: He co-founded Hotmail, the free e-mail company Microsoft bought up 10 years ago. With InstaColl, he hopes to build a successful â€œmade in Indiaâ€ software company.