launched Live Documents, a mini-office suite of products similar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Live Documents has already received plenty of press coverage, mainly because it was co-founded by Sabeer Bhatia - the man who famously sold web mail service Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million in 1998.Indian company InstaColl today formally
Live Documents was built using RIA technologies including Flash and Flex, which the company claims gives it a "user experience that is comparable to native Office software applications." In its launch announcement, Live Documents is being heavily positioned as a Microsoft Office competitor - and complement. On the latter, the company says that "Live Documents is available as a optional desktop client application that wraps around Microsoft Office and embeds collaborative capabilities into these hitherto standalone software applications." There is also offline access.
It's also clear that Live Documents is leveraging the Microsoft brand - from the "Live" brand name, to the claim that it has a ÄúServices plus SoftwareÄù approach (Microsoft's calls this "software plus services").
Continuing the 'embrace and extend' Microsoft theme, InstaColl CTO Adarsh Kini claims that Live Documents "break's Microsoft's proprietary format lock-in and builds a bridge with other document standards such as Open Office". He also says their service "matches features found only in the latest version of Office (Office 2007)", so giving users a reason to avoid upgrading their MS Office software.
It's clever marketing all round (or a "a shameless rip-off of the MS brand", depending on your pov!) and, as Nick Carr pointed out, India alone is a potentially huge market for Live Documents to take on Microsoft Office. Dan Farber also has a good post, giving context on the Web Office space in general - which is very crowded. But the problem is that nobody has yet seen the software in action, so it's difficult to say how Live Documents compares with the likes of Google D&S, Zoho, and ThinkFree.
Live Documents first surfaced in Sept 2006, and its current incarnation seems high on hyperbole and low on beta product action. So all we can do, like everyone else, is sign up to the invite beta and wait and see if the PR bluster will be backed up by the actual product.