A case for online office apps

A friend just sent me his thesis on Business angel networks in Denmark as a word document. I promised to read it through and comment on it before he turns it in some time next week. I’ve spent the last two hours trying to open the damn thing.

The core of the problem is apparently that the document is created in word 2008 and my version of word is 2003. So I get an error message, and a prompt with a Microsoft URL where I can go and download a word converter. Fine, no problem. I try to download the 30mb. program using firefox, but it continually hangs around halfway through the download. After around ten tries I give up, and try an office converter program that is linked from the Microsoft download page. After a few false starts I manage to download the program. When I run it I find out that it doesn’t work with my version of Word for some reason. Back to square one. Maybe the download will work better with Internet explorer, after all Microsoft program have been known to be hostile towards Firefox. No. “The connection was reset”.

In the end I had to ask my friend to resend the document saved as a word 2003 document.

If he had used an online office suite such as Google docs or Zoho I wouldn’t have had these problems. Microsoft should really be better at covering one of the areas where they are most vulnerable. Sharing documents in online apps is as simple as sending a link, not a 2 hour ordeal that ends up in failure.

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