Online office suite

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An online office suite or online productivity suite is a type of office suite offered by websites in the form of software as a service. They can be accessed online from any Internet-enabled device running any operating system. This allows people to work together worldwide and at any time, thereby leading to international web-based collaboration and virtual teamwork. Usually, the basic versions are offered for free and for more advanced versions one is required to pay a nominal subscription fee.

Applications are often developed on the Web 2.0 paradigms with leverage on the existing developer community. Players come from both the commercial software market and from the open source, free software communities.

Office 2.0[edit]

The term Office 2.0, which is sometimes used to refer to online office suites, originated with Ismael Ghalimi in an experimental effort to test whether he could perform all of his computer based work in online applications.[citation needed] It is a marketing neologism representing the concepts of office productivity applications as published applications rather than stand-alone programs, leveraging the Web 2.0 concept to conjure imagery of collaborative, community based and centralised effort rather than the more traditional application running on a platform locally. It is also the focus of the annual Office 2.0 Conference.[citation needed]


Examples of where the term may apply include:

  • The centralized administration of office productivity software, installation, licensing and version control
  • Collaborative applications which improve personal and organizational productivity
  • Centralized storage of data, rather than traditional personal data responsibility
  • Applications which focus on collaborative data sharing, document review and document resource management
  • Office applications which are able to be run from multiple independent platforms with a suitable back-end framework to present the application in a uniform manner.

The Zoho apps descriptions and Google Docs online applications give good outlines of some of these capabilities.[promotional language]


  • The cost is low. In most cases, there is no specific charge for using the service for users who already have access to a computer with a web browser and a connection to the Internet.
  • There is no need to download or install software outside of the office suite’s web page, including the ongoing upgrade chores of adding new features to or eliminating bugs from the office suite.
  • Online office suites can run on thin clients with minimal hardware requirements.
  • Online office suites provide the ability for a group of people to share a document without the need to run their own server.
  • There is no need to purchase or upgrade a software license. Instead, the online office suite is available in the form of software as a service.
  • Online office suites are portable. Users can access their documents from almost any device with a connection to the Internet, regardless of which operating system they use.
  • If the user’s computer fails, the documents are still safely stored on the remote server. Online service providers' backup processes and overall stability will generally be superior to that of most home systems.


  • Access requires connectivity—if the remote server or network is unavailable, the content will also be unavailable. However, in many cases, the online suite will allow the user to regularly backup data or even provide synchronization of documents between the server and the local computer.[1]
  • There are speed and accessibility issues. Most of the available online office suites require a high speed (broadband) Internet connection. That can be a problem for users who are limited by a slower connection to the Internet.
  • The number of features available is an issue. Online office suites tend to lack the more advanced features available on their offline counterparts.
  • In the long term, if there is a subscription charge to use the service, the ongoing subscription cost may be more expensive than purchasing offline software upfront.
  • The user has no control over the version of the software used. If the software is changed the user is forced to use the changed version, even if the changed version is less suited to the user.
  • The user is reliant on the service provider for security and privacy of their documents.[2][3][4]


As with most marketing neologisms which later become accepted public trends, technologists contend that these technologies have existed for some time, particularly in the form of Microsoft Terminal Services based applications and Citrix XenApp published application frameworks. The term itself is likely to only be used as a reference to a group of selling points.

There are also questions as to how businesses will be affected by storing all of their documents in online environments. For example, the search and seizures provisions offered by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution do not apply to online service providers storing third-party data (see NSA warrantless surveillance controversy).


An online office suite normally includes a broad set of applications, such as the following:

Document creation and editing applications

Publishing applications

Collaborative applications

Management applications

See also[edit]


External links[edit]