There is a bit of a buzz around ajaxWrite, a new Web2.0 word processor, like Writely. Much of the buzz is around the fact that the guy reponsible for it is Michael Robertson who was previously behind Linspire, the user friendly Linux distro.

The first thing to say about it is that, at the moment, it is bloody slow. I guess part of the reason for that is the big demand on the servers at the moment as everyone tries out the new toy. People like me, then.

So what’s it like? It’s ok. It’s made to look like a desktop app, rather than the friendly colours of Writely and other AJAXy sites like that. It deliberatley sets out to take on Microsoft Word, in fact Microsoft Office according to the blurb on the pre-loaded document:

The look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Word in a AJAX platform. This means you can load it in seconds from a web browser.

Did we mention it’s free? That’s right.

Microsoft Office Professional 2007 – $499

AjaxWrite – $0

Erm, ok. Well, for a start, there’s a little bit of a difference between what Office does as a whole and what AjaxWrite does. Even if ajaxWrite was the best word processor ever designed, it still wouldn’t be comparable, would it? What a bizaare claim to make.


Feature wise, it’s ok – better than Writely. It can open .doc files, and save them too, as well as PDFs which is great. However, it looks to me like you can only save files to a local disk – you can’t save them online or share them with others. This is a straight competitor to a desktop word processor.

One of my pet hates with software is non compliance with standards – especially on keyboard shortcuts. ajaxWrite meddles with the standards – like making bold text a ctrol-shift-b rather than just ctrl-b as normal. It’s all academic, anyway, as I couldn’t get any of them in any combination to work this evening.

In all honesty, I don’t like it. If you don’t want to use MS stuff, use OpenOffice.org, or AbiWord (both of which are just as free as ajaxWrite) or even WordPerfect or StarOffice if you don’t mind paying. ajaxWrite claims to have the functionality of Word, but it doesn’t come close – nor indeed to OOo Writer, and what’s worse it seems to me to fail to take advantage of providing a WP service online.

Update: the Office rather than Word comparison, according to this post, is because other parts of an office suite will be released in time. Ah yes, if I had read the post on Michael Robertson’s blog that I linked to above properly, I would have known that. So, that’s that cleared up then. Sorry, all.