Web Service Helps Non-Office Users Be Compatible - InformationWeek

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Web Service Helps Non-Office Users Be Compatible

With AjaxWrite, customers can create documents and save them on a computer's hard drive as a Microsoft Word file. To get people to sign up, the company founder plans to launch new capabilities every week for the next two months.

In choosing word processing first, Robertson is tacking something that has become commoditized for the consumer. The capability is available today as a part of many applications, from email to blogging services, which means Microsoft Office in the future is more likely to be used as a standalone suite among businesses.

Indeed, seeing that trend, Microsoft in November launched its Live initiative to eventually offer all its software as a Web service.

Google this month jumped into the market for Web-based office productivity applications with the purchase of Writely, an online word-processing service that allows users to store and work with text documents. Users can also share selected documents with other Writely users, enabling groups to collaboratively edit documents.

Robertson declined to say how he plans to make money from his service, but said he doesn't plan to support it through advertising. He also is funding the project himself, and does not have any investors.

"The goal here is to get people away from expensive desktop products, and into small, powerful applications that load directly off the Internet," Robertson said.

Robertson has experienced in launching projects with his own money. In February, he launched online music store MP3Tunes.com.

He launched his original music site MP3.com in 1997. At its height, the portal was the No. 1 music site on the Web with 3 million hits a month. In 2000, however, a federal court ruled that a portion of the service violated copyright law by allowing songs from commercial CDs to be downloaded. Robertson sold MP3.com to Vivendi Universal, which sold it in 2003.

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