Technology & Science

Software giants move documents away from desktops

Rival software companies Adobe Systems and Microsoft Corp. each made moves Monday to join Google Inc. in the now-crowded market of companies bringing documents from the desktop to online browsers.

Rival software companies Adobe Systems and Microsoft Corp.eachmoved Monday to join Google Inc. in the now-crowded market of companies bringing documents from the desktop to online browsers.

Adobe announced the purchase of Virtual Ubiquity, the company behind web word processor Buzzword, andunveiled a new file-sharing service called Share.

The company, best known for its Portable Document Format (PDF) and design tools Photoshop and Flash Player, said the two moves will help it deliver its content more easily on web browsers. Buzzword is a document editor that runs on Adobe's Flash Player and is designed for online use.

Adobe senior vice-president David Mendels called the partnership "an exciting showcase of the power of Adobe’s rich internet application technology that raises the bar for the quality of experience people should expect in their applications."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Adobe's announcement came the same day Microsoft Corp. unveiled a web component for its desktop-based Office programs that allows users to store, share comment on documents.

Microsoft Office Live Workspace, which launched as a test version on Monday, doesn't actually let users create new files from scratch online, but it is a step by the company towards bringing its suite of desktop applications to the web.

Office Live Workspace gives users about 250 MB of storage, or room to keep about 1,000 average Office documents stored online. PC users can upload Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and invite colleagues to read and add comments to these documents through the browser.

Programs like Word and Excel have kept Microsoft at the top of the desktop office software market, but the company has faced competition from open-source desktop programs like OpenOffice and more recently, from online applications like Google Docs.

John Rymer, an analyst for Forrester Research, said Workspace could herald the beginning of Microsoft's entry into the "virtual desktop" market.

"The payoff is going to come later, when you've got editing, real collaboration … when it's really Office reconstituted," he said. "That's not going to come for a while."

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