Adobe is following Google and more recently, Microsoft, by offering a free online word processing application. To accomplish this, the software company announced that they plan to purchase Boston-based startup Virtual Ubiquity. They are the company behind Buzzword. Adobe was an initial investor in the Virtual Ubiquity with a $100 million investment, through their venture fund. Buzzword is in beta. Virtual Ubiquity says they will distinguish Buzzword from Google Docs and other competitors. Like Google Docs, the program will eventually work on the desktop too.
TechCrunch notes that Buzzword still has a ways to go. It’s slower at copy and paste, it doesn’t allow hyperlinks (this is probably the worst offense), and so far you cannot easily export information to your web site or blog. I found another drawback—you must have the most current Flash player to even access the home page.
It will, however, have file sharing support. Adobe plans to integrate it into another new service called Adobe Share. The highlight of this service is that you can embed a preview of your document into a web page. The document can then be printed into PDF format.
Microsoft has announced their own free online word processing program called Office Live Workspace.
On their blog Friday, Virtual Ubiquity put down the notion that they are taking on Google or Microsoft. “We’re no immediate threat to the big guys, and we’re not going head-to-head. Nevertheless, there are those who need a word processor that is ‘cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more convenient to use.’”
For now, new accounts are limited and will be added gradually.