Ajax Office, a proposed project to create an open source, web-based suite of office applications, has fallen by the wayside. But the project’s founder Paolo Massa is convinced that not only will there be successful open source projects in the space, but that it is only a matter of time before the likes of Google or Yahoo! launch a web-based office suite of their own – going up against Microsoft Office but in the online sphere.
Massa, a PhD student at the International Graduate School in Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Trento, Italy, had sought collaboration on a project he named Ajax Office and hosted at open source community sourceforge.net. He said his goal was to create, "A complete office suite usable via your browser. Your documents are safely stored on a server so that you don’t have to worry about backups and you can access them from every computer in the world."
Sadly his studies have taken up too much of his time to pursue the project, and he has subsequently decided to leave the idea in the hands of a number of other projects and enterprises in the web-based office applications space, like the Zimbra Server for online email and personal information management (PIM); and gOFFICE, a fully browser-based word processor.
Last month CBROnline reported the rumour that Google might come out with a web-based office suite of its own. Since then there has been no further news to substantiate the rumour and the company has stayed mum, but nevertheless speculation has been growing that Google may well be looking at the prospect of a web-based office suite.
According to Massa, it is only a matter of time before a big name comes up with a web-based office suite to compete with Microsoft Office: "If you think about it, it would mean having access to your office documents from any browser," he told CBR, outlining his view that a provider could enable the creation and storage of office documents on their web servers. "I think someone will do this within a year," he said. "The business model is still not completely clear, but someone will do it."
Massa said that he had plenty of correspondence about his Ajax Office project, but: "With my thesis to finish by the end of December, I just haven’t time to devote to it any more. But there are lots of exciting projects in the web-based office applications space that look really impressive already."