Hotmail founder launches Office rival

An online documents suite has been launched by InstaColl to rival the Microsoft Office suite.

An online documents suite has been launched by InstaColl to rival the Microsoft Office suite.

The man behind the venture is Sabeer Bhatia, one of the founders of the Hotmail e-mail system, which was later acquired by Microsoft.

He believes the Live Documents web-based document suite will do for file productivity what Hotmail did for e-mail.

Live Documents is a full-featured suite of online office productivity applications offering functionality equivalent to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Built using RIA development technologies such as Flash and Flex, Live Documents allows users to view and edit documents within any common browser on any operating system from any location.

Live Documents uses a Flash-based user interface that offers a richer and more responsive user experience that is comparable to native Office software applications, said InstaColl.

In addition, Live Documents is available as a optional desktop client application that wraps around Microsoft Office and embeds collaborative capabilities into these standalone software applications.

In effect, Live Documents can convert Microsoft Office applications from static standalone software to smart clients that are connected to the internet to allow multiple users to edit a document at the same time. The Live Documents desktop client also ensures offline access to documents - a key failing of current online Office applications, said InstaColl.

Any changes made to documents either online or offline are also automatically synchronised.

Sabeer Bhatia, InstaColl chairman, said, "Live Documents offers a unique perspective on Office productivity and collaboration that merges the best of two worlds - the richness and familiarity of desktop software with the collaborative capabilities of the web.

"It provides a reliable bridge between the online and offline worlds that consumers and businesses can count on. I believe that Live Documents does for documents what Hotmail did for e-mail."

A preview of the technology is available online with general availability to follow shortly. Live Documents is free for personal use, with commercial versions available for enterprises both in a hosted form as well as an on-premise server.

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