Point-by-Point Comparison with Zoho and Google Docs
Although the focus of this article is collaboration, there are other variables that will help determine which of the cloud computing services is right for you and your company. Ease of use doesn’t account for everything.
As with all potential purchases, price plays a major factor in the final choice. Google Apps for Business costs $5 per month or $50 per user per year (if you have fewer than 10 users it can be used free). Office 365 has several different plans ranging from $6 per month to $27 per month (with no discount for full year purchases). Zoho is a compartmentalized plan that has a cost of $3 or $5 per user per month dependant on the user needs, but email service is not provided. The separate cost for this is $2.50 to $3.50 per month. There are various other add-ons for Zoho and there are limited versions of the Docs and email service that are offered free. There is no clear winner in this aspect, although Google Apps is the most cost effective for small business.
The actual collaborative features of these three cloud-computing systems all allow real-time editing of documents but there are some very important differences. Google Apps lets a user share files with any other Google account, even those that are not included in your own Google Apps group. It also has several third party add-on applications and supports several file formats. Office 365 offers real time collaboration, but you have to install Lync first where Google Apps requires no downloads. To run Lync you have to install the Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Services client (so if you’re keeping count, that’s two downloads). If you want someone outside of your group to view your documents you can have them access it through SharePoint, for a fee of course. Zoho acts much like Google Docs, requiring no downloads and only needing a Zoho, Google, Facebook or Yahoo account to login.
If you want to collaborate, it is important to know what types of files can be worked on in the cloud. Google Apps works with Google docs to import most documents formatted in basic form. It can also work with Office 97 to 2003, Office 2007 and 2010, Open Office txt. and rtf. and can export in all of these formats except Office 2007 and 2010 (these can be exported as PDF files). Office 365 is quite limited in this department. It currently only supports the newer versions of Word, Excel, and several other Office programs. Even txt. files can only be read but not edited in the online browser. It seems that this product was meant to be integrated with the newest version of Office and used to compliment the Office Suite. Zoho Docs can handle everything that Google Docs can and can export in PDF and LaTex formats.
If you use a mobile device (iPhone, Android 2.2+ or Windows Phone 7), Google Apps is the only option that allows editing, and only with the help of third party applications like QuickOffice. Office 365 limits most document options to view only and Zoho does the same.