And as a personal preference, we weren't crazy about the way clicking Options and other links along the top of the page opened a box of details that pushed our document down the page, making us lose our place and with it, our train of thought. But worst of all, when Zoho exported our Writer file to Microsoft Word, it didn't use the most recently saved version of our document. When we tried to copy and paste some missing paragraphs from Zoho Writer beta into Word, Zoho wouldn't let us.
As with Google Writely beta, Zoho Writer beta has no desktop component. If you lose Internet connectivity, kiss your recent work good-bye or use another program until you get back online. ThinkFree, on the other hand, provides both online and desktop versions for its word processor, Write, as well as for Calc, its spreadsheet maker, and Show, its presentation-creation app.
Zoho also offers a suite of online productivity programs, including Zoho Sheet for spreadsheets, the Zoho Show presentation maker, and Zoho Planner for organizing to-do lists. However, Zoho Writer beta didn't provide simple tie-ins to the other apps. For example, we couldn't copy a chunk of a Zoho spreadsheet and paste its formatting into Writer. To integrate the various Zoho tools, business users can look to Zoho Virtual Office and even a customer relationship management tool.
Zoho Writer beta's support offerings include toll-free, free, 24/7 tech support by telephone and e-mail, which is rare for free online software. We received nearly instant, helpful e-mail replies from Zoho when we had questions about the features. You can also access well-frequented user forums and a feedback link to e-mail the company.
Although it's imperfect, Zoho Writer beta can be convenient for composing and editing documents and sharing them with other users if you're on a budget and don't want to pay for a desktop word processor. We prefer the more elegant Google Writely beta. If you'd rather have a free word processor that doesn't require Web access, check out OpenOffice Writer, part of the OpenOffice suite. Or until 2007, you can also use the preview of the next-generation Microsoft Office 2007 suite for many more features and integration with PowerPoint and Excel. We hope that the final version of Zoho Writer will clean up the problems that irritated us during beta testing, and that it will integrate with Zoho's many other dynamic tools.
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