Browser-based OpenOffice beta launched

Ulteo is trialling the beta of Online, which makes the popular office productivity program available through a browser.

The beta which is open to the first 15,000 subscribers, offers access to the complete OpenOffice suite without any prior installation, and 1GB of free storage.

The suite also adds collaboration capabilities, allowing multiple users to work on a shared document, with the changes tracked in real time.

Ulteo clearly has high hopes for the software, citing the potential uses in schools and colleges. The company also claims that taking OpenOffice online could help broaden adoption of the open-source office package.

"Users can introduce to others via email, invite them to discover with just one click, and can give a personal tour of the program," said a company spokesperson. "Bloggers and journalists will be able to add a link to in their articles for readers to click through and try the program."

"This is an interesting development for people who want to try out without having to download and install the software," added John McCreesh, marketing project lead at

He added "For us, Ulteo is just another distribution channel. It's the same software, whether you download it, get it from the cover disk of a PC magazine, buy it from a CD distributor, get it pre-loaded on your new PC, or run it online.

"If Ulteo encourages people to try, then that can only be a good thing. It may even persuade people to load it on their PCs for those offline moments."

OpenOffice is the latest name in a growing list of office suites going online, following Adobe, Google Docs, Zoho and IBM.

Microsoft has also dipped a tentative foot in the water with the launch of Office Live Workspaces, the online component of its Office suite.