Are using desktop applications such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint from the cloud a better option compared to install and use from your desktop? Let's see.Google Docs, Microsoft Office365 and Zoho Docs provide web-based applications for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. For core document (Word, Excel, PPT) to create or edit existing documents, the three online apps (Office365, Google Docs and Zoho Docs) will do the job. Infact for spreadsheets, Zoho Doc has the most features (a feature missing is macros, which do not work in one of the online applications) from your desktop application.
What are the features of Office Web applications provide (and do not provide) and how we can access them?
You can access the online office applications via your browser (IE, Firefox, etc.) and your documents / spreadsheets open in the browser window. The only difference is in Office365 where you can open a document on your desktop, if you have MS Office installed locally!!!
Google Docs: You can view files created in Excel and Word after charging. If you want to edit files, then you must convert to Google Docs (for download you have one). Similarly, all new files created will be in Google docs format.
This means, in effect, many of the features you use in Word / Excel are not available. You can convert the modified files to XLS (MS old desktop version) if you want.
Microsoft Office365: You can view and edit files on the web after uploading existing files. But many of the features of Word / Excel desktop versions are available on the web. Similarly in words (to list a few), features such as adding header, footer and track changes are not available since Office365 is designed as an extension of Web from your Office word / Excel and not a replacement.
Zoho Docs: Similar to Office365 you can view and edit files or create a new document or an Excel file. Also with Zoho docs the features are very similar to your Word and Excel office and you can use it with ease. This is a big advantage over Google Apps or Office365.
However, an important point to consider is, macros or macro enabled spreadsheets will not work in Office365, Zoho Docs and Google Apps. XLSM) in Google Apps and Zoho Docs. In Office365 you can open the file but the macro functionality does not work.
There is a long way to go before you get most (if not all) of the features and functionality of their desktop applications on web applications.
But if you need a simple functionality or basic features for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations, web-based applications is the way to go.