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The Newfangled Holy Grail of SaaS Has Come to OpenOffice
OpenOffice Enveloped by the Cloud

The newfangled Holy Grail of software-as-a-service has come to OpenOffice, the freebie challenger of Microsoft Office sent into the wild years ago by Sun Microsystems to wreak what havoc it could.

Ulteo, the outfit started by Mandrakesoft, now Mandriva, founder Gaël Duval last year after Mandriva fired him over strategic differences, has webified OpenOffice 2.3.

Its new software-as-a-service, called the Ulteo Online Desktop and days into an open beta, is supposed to make it unnecessary to install or update OpenOffice on a client PC, the first of apparently other desktop applications and data management that Ulteo intends to take into the cloud.

It is also supposed to let users collaborate, another de rigeur facility, by invitation in real-time.

Unfortunately for Ulteo, early feedback says the thing is balky and slow because of Java coupled with OpenOffice's basic limitations. And it's unclear whether sharing is really there.

Ulteo is running the service off of servers in Europe and the east coast of North America but apparently they're being somewhat overwhelmed by what Duval terms the "Slashdot effect." Ulteo, which seems to have been planning on 15,000 beta users, is talking about adding more and bigger machines.

However, until that happen it was advising would-be testers that "If it's too slow or if you cannot get an OpenOffice.org session, please just register and come back later. We will inform you when things get back to normal."

Perhaps not the best of all possible worlds for a company trying to take on Microsoft. It also can't handle any beta testers in Asia yet.

By the way, one needs a web browser with JavaScript support and a Sun Java Runtime Environment 1.4+ plug-in to access it - which may give Ubuntu a few problems.

Ulteo says the data transmission between the user's browser and Ulteo's servers is encrypted but once there - in the 1GB of free storage Ulteo is offering, well, "there can be no formal guarantee," it says.

Files can reportedly also be saved on a hard drive.

Both Ulteo and OpenOffice folks remark that Ulteo could entice more people to experiment with OpenOffice since they don't have to install it now. Like OpenOffice it works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. And training can now be done online.

It can also evangelize the Microsoft-bucking OpenDocument Forum that OpenOffice uses though people can also exchange traditional Office and PDF documents.

Ulteo eventually intends to have a paid subscription as well as a free version of its Desktop.

There are currently something like 800 projects trying to unseat Office including Google Apps, Zoho, Adobe, LiveDocument and IBM. Microsoft, in response, started beta testing its "software-plus-services" Office Live Workspace last week.

Meanwhile, Sun, looking to add a buck to its top line, has taken to supporting OpenOffice distributors with unique issues, saying it will furnish patches. Its own version of OpenOffice of course is StarOffice.

It also appears to be going into the document conversion business with a StarOffice server that's supposed to translate legacy documents en masse into Adobe's PDF format.

See www.ulteo.com/home/ooo.

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

It's great like tools are emerging nowadays! I guess next year there will be even more of them and those that we're already using will be even more efficient! As for me, I can't wait till the release of the next version of Wrike http://www.wrike.com/

Out of interest I tried the WEB2.0 SaaS version of Open Office from Ulteo.

At the moment it is very much Linux Centric and, although I did not delve too deeply, a lot of the features do not seem to be fully implemented.

I have also tried the Streamed version from Stream24-7.com


If you need to get some idea about how far WEB2.0 SaaS needs to go before it becomes a serious contender for On Demand Application Delivery of 'real' applications then you could do worse than try the same comparison yourselves.

It is a real eye opener.


The newfangled Holy Grail of software-as-a-service has come to OpenOffice, the freebie challenger of Microsoft Office sent into the wild years ago by Sun Microsystems to wreak what havoc it could. Ulteo, the outfit started by Mandrakesoft, now Mandriva, founder Gaël Duval last year after Mandriva fired him over strategic differences, has webified OpenOffice 2.3

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