This week Read/WriteWeb will be featuring a series of posts about the Web Office. Let's start by summarizing what exactly is a Web Office. In a June post we mentioned that a Web Office suite should have, at the least, the following apps in it: email, calendar, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations. These are the core products of Microsoft Office, the dominant office suite package. You could also make a case for apps like contacts manager, task manager or even project management to be in the core products, but we'll keep things real simple. Here's how the main Web Office contenders shape up:

Web Office Suite: Core Products

Email Calendar Word processing Spreadsheets Presentation
Google Apps Y, Gmail Y, Google Calendar Y, Google D & S Y, Google D & S Y, Zenter + Tonic
Zoho Y, Zoho Mail (private beta) Y, Zoho Mail (private beta) Y, Zoho Writer Y, Zoho Sheet Y, Zoho Show
ThinkFree N N Y, ThinkFree Write Y, ThinkFree Calc Y, ThinkFree Show
Zimbra Y Y Y Y N
Microsoft Office Live Y Y N N N


Note: Zimbra and Microsoft Office Live don't have separate names for their apps

It's certainly over-simplifying, but it helps to get a sense of where all the main players are in creating a basic Web Office suite. Google Apps has everything but Presentations, but that is rumored to be here soon after recent acquisitions in that space. Zoho has the most complete offering so far, including many other apps not listed (Meeting, Wiki, etc). Zimbra also has an impressive offering - like Google it is only missing Presentations. ThinkFree has the main productivity apps, but it doesn't have email or calendar.

A note about Microsoft. Currently it has a number of different offerings, all under the 'Office Live' banner - there are 7 products listed on this page, including Office Live Premium and Office Live Groove. But as yet, no sign that Microsoft will risk its massive desktop Office revenues, by offering an online office suite. Indeed, that may never happen - as Microsoft attempts to create a desktop/online hybrid around its 'services' strategy.

There are signs though that Microsoft is at least experimenting - earlier this month they announced a free, ad supported version of Microsoft Works, its 'lite' office suite. However it isn't a browser-based office offering, as was rumored last year.

Here's this week's poll: