When Microsoft launched “Live Workspaces” last year we were sufficiently underwhelmed. But Microsoft didn’t have to wow us. The software giant could, and has been taking its time playing catch-up with web enabled productivity suites (namely Google Docs) while it continues milking the desktop software cash cow.
So far much of the competition has been centered around web apps that mimic the majority of functions users need (Google Docs, Zoho, Thinkfree, Transmedia, LiveDocuments). However, two former Microsoft employees, Shan Sinha and Alex DeNeui, are bringing web-top-like sharing and collaboration to the Microsoft Office Suite millions of people already own.
We have 200 Beta invites available here.
Their company, DocVerse, is making light-weight plugins for Microsoft office that let users share and collaboratively edit documents within Microsoft Office and on the web. Their first release is for Microsoft Powerpoint. The plugin is ideal for people looking to quickly iterate on a presentation.
DocVerse’s functionality balances the collaborative power of web-based editors and full functionality enabled by file syncing solutions (like Dropbox or Box.net).
When a user installs a plugin and creates a DocVerse account, any changes they make to a presentation linked to DocVerse is synced in near real time to a copy in the cloud. The user can then share that file through a url publicly or privately behind a login screen on their web-top Flash-based client. The viewer can also make edits or add comments to the document from the web. Each edit becomes part of a “news feed” listing all the updates the document has undergone.
Saving them updates both the web and desktop versions. If two people save edits to the same element, the owner is asked to approve the changes. Version control ensures you can always revert if you make a mistake.
While Microsoft is a clear and present competitor, DocVerse is betting they can release a better product sooner.