Cloud based document editing and viewing simply make more sense.
Google understands this well and introduced their office suite to the next generation of email users (gmail) to their offering with a very simple, yet effective way by including a “view” link next to the dreaded “download” link in any viewable document.
This was no small feat as they had to acquire and of course build an office suite capable of rivaling the desktop competitors out there (read: Microsoft) but the elegance and simplicity of this link make the shortcomings of the online office suite seem acceptable.
Google took an already established behavior (reading email) and took away some pain (downloading and opening attachments) by including a “view” link along with “download”.
By including a “view” link next to documents, worksheets, PDFs, images, and almost every other office file they invited you to start using their version of desktop document editing software in the cloud. This nuance is what will in my opinion force all other competitors to do the same. They didn’t name it “cloud based office” or “online document editing” or even pitch it overtly – its just a simple link.
This is the power of solving or easing someones pain – doing so without them realizing you are dis intermediating an arguably better equipped opponent. By saving someone time and energy while reading email attachments they have cracked the code on getting people to switch the very fabric of office software they use.
Sure there are a few drawbacks – some that I am keenly aware of as a power Excel user. It is virtually impossible to use Excel for certain tasks on anything but a Windows machine running Excel with a full keyboard. But for the general population an online worksheet system will work just fine.
By introducing this system they have also inherently brought people into the next generation of document management as well – sharing.
Pulling people into a simpler and less complex way of editing documents and introducing mass editing and sharing without version control problems is what makes it stick.
google, Google Docs