I’ve always been a big fan of Google, so I was really surprised today when I found some stuff where Microsoft seems to be doing a better job than Google. Microsoft of course has the advantage of familiarity when it comes to programs like Word and Excel. But I was surprised to see Microsoft has some great “Cloud” apps.
Google has been making a bold move towards cloud computing with the introduction of their Chrome OS. They’ve made a bit of a buzz in some circles with the introduction of the pilot program for their CR-48.
Over the past few years, I’d started to wean myself off of Microsoft Office. I really didn’t want to spend the money on Office when there were free alternatives out there. I initially went to using Open Office, which is free software that will allow you to open and edit pretty much all microsoft Office documents.
In the past 6 months or so, I’ve started to use Google Docs for some of my document editing. Because I have several computers in my home, I found the best way to make sure I can edit the files from any computer is to work “in the cloud”. I uploaded an excel spreadsheet which only needed some minor edits to work in Google docs, and then the file is saved online. From any computer, I log into my Google account, and I can edit the files and keep them saved. No more worrying if I have the most recent version on a particular computer. I had started to think that this would be my way of dealing with Word documents I get sent in the future.
The only potential problem is that the kids’ schools use Word and Power Point. I’ve had them use Open Office, but it really takes a bit of getting used to for them.
A few weeks ago, I bought a new laptop and I was surprised that it included a new approach from Microsoft – Office Starter 2010. Office Starter is basically Word and Excel, but with advertisements and have limited functionality. I haven’t used it much, but it seems like it should be fine for opening documents and editing them. Other than Power Point, I really didn’t use anything else in Office. And I can still use Open Office for my presentations when need be. I still need to figure out what the schools expect the kids to do who don’t have Power Point at home. They may be able to access it from home via Remote Desktop – again a differen (but related) problem to the ones I’ve been trying to solve. I figured that as long as I have Word and Excel on the new laptop, I’m probably going to use those over Open Office. I’ll still use Google Docs for the files I want to be able to access from more than one computer. Or at least so I thought.
Fast forward to the past few days when I’m trying to come up with a good way to back up my photos and videos online. I was using Picasa to do some quick photo editing (love the red-eye removal!) and realized I can store the photos and videos online through Picasa Web Albums. With Child 2.1 here, we’ve got a ton of photos and videos and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to store them safely. High definition videos are HUGE and I don’t trust having them saved in only 1 place. I also don’t want to be constantly burning DVD’s either. I was thinking about saving them onto two of the computers so I’d at least have them stored in two places. This is still a pain. When I saw the Picasa Web Albums option, I was thinking this would be perfect. Until I see that there is a limit of a mere 1 Gb. That’s like a few minutes of high def video it seems.
Looking around, I see that I can get extra space on Google for only $5 per year for 20 Gb , which does seem very, very reasonable. The main advantage I see to saving files online is that they are going to be more secure. I know Google isn’t going anywhere, and I know they back-up all of their servers (at least I assume and sure hope they do).
Before I went ahead and spent any money, I figured I’d see what other people are doing for storing high def videos, thinking most people must have the same issue. I noticed a whole bunch of companies that offer online storage options. Adrive actually sounded pretty good – being free for 50gb of space, but my concern was what happens if the company disappears one night. Offering 50gb of free space and expecting to support that with ads seems like a pretty bad business model. Even Google is charging money (even if it is a minimal amount) probably to keep people from abusing the free storage space.
I then notice that Microsoft offers not only an online storage service – Windows Live SkyDrive – but they also offer a whole suite of cloud apps – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. Ah – there is a free PowerPoint option! I’ll have to see how userfriendly it is for the kids.
I’m thinking – this will blow Google Docs out of the water. Everyone seems to use Microsoft Word. Google was my first exposure to Google Docs and cloud computer, and they seem to be making a big push to get people working in the cloud, but I have to admit, I’m more likely to go with Microsoft products when it comes to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. It’s just a matter of familiarity and not having to worry about converting files for OTHER people who aren’t as tech saavy.
So – Google does all of this work to get people out in the cloud, and even have an entire operating system built around working in the cloud, and then Microsoft comes along and stomps on them and everyone else trying to cut into the Office pie. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for anyone to beat Microsoft on this one.
The more pressing issue, is I’m still trying to figure out the best way to store my online vidoes. I’ll have to post my thoughts and experiences on that front another time. Sleep is calling.