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Bye Bye Microsoft Word, Hello ajaxWrite

What if there was alternative for Microsoft Word that would install and open in 6 seconds, read and write Microsoft Word .doc files and run on Macintosh, Microsoft Windows or Linux computers? And oh yeah, it was FREE so consumers didn't have to pay $499 for Microsoft Office. I'm excited to announce that day is here.

Before I go into specifics, let me give you some background about how it all came about. Two years ago, I received an email from a guy named Hisham. I usually get a couple of emails a week from someone with a big idea, but I got the sense that there was more to this one. He told me about his idea to offer a service like CNR (a popular Linspire feature that installs programs with one click) for all computers. He wasn’t talking about a software installation system, but rather a new way to build and deliver software using the power of the browser. This would mean that the latest software could be delivered directly to any computer with an Internet connection almost instantaneously.


Since he's in Germany, I agreed to a meeting in Brussels, Belgium where I was attending to other EU business. We met in a dark, smoky hotel bar, which lent an air akin to a spy novel rendezvous. Hisham pulled out a laptop and did a quick technology demonstration. Within a couple hours we formulated a plan to revolutionize the way consumers acquire and use PC software.

You can get music, movies and news with a single click, but if you need a major software program you have to drive to a store and waste the better part of a day and a significant sum of money to get to a point where you can use it. The same technology companies that have made it possible to deliver just about anything else with a single click on a computer haven't done the same for software. Microsoft and others seemed locked into a 1980s style of business largely because their monopoly has insulated them from competitive pressures to change.

My plan is to replace bloated, expensive PC software with a system that dynamically loads software to your computer when you need it and at no cost. Want to write a document? One click and you'll have a word processor at your fingertips. Need to create a financial model? Click, and a spreadsheet program is at your service. The software will always be up to date and run on any Mac/Win/Lin computer.

With this mission I quietly formed a new company last year and set about realizing our first products. I became the CEO and have been working with my team to build our cornerstone applications, the first of which we're launching today.

Introducing ajaxWrite, a completely web-based AJAX platform

ajaxWrite is a powerful word processor that can read and write Microsoft Word formatted documents. Anytime you need a word processor, need to open a .doc file or edit a .doc file, simply point your Firefox browser at ajaxWrite.com and in seconds a full-featured program will be loaded. For 90 percent of the people in the world, the need to buy Microsoft Word just vanished. This won't make Microsoft happy, but software users should be very excited that software just got cheaper, immediate and modern.

But ajaxWrite is just the start. We have a library of applications we have been working on to replace most of the standard PC software titles. Every week we will launch a new sophisticated program on Wednesday at 12:00 PST on ajaxlaunch.com. These programs will push the boundaries of what people believe is possible today with web-delivered software. These programs look and operate much like their traditional software cousins, but are cross-platform, loaded dynamically, and are available to users at no charge. I'm convinced if you try a few of these products you will understand how the software business will fundamentally change.

The impact of this shift in how software is delivered to users cannot be understated. First and foremost, we're blowing up the economic model that companies like Microsoft and Adobe have built their empires around - selling packaged software for big dollar amounts. Software is transforming into a service more akin to web mail, news, IM and VoIP where the basic offering is free. That doesn't mean that the companies behind these services don't make money, but that the way they make money will changes.

Secondly, software is constantly improving. Rather than living with a software program for 3 years until a new version is released, these programs are constantly being updated with features, bug fixes and security enhancements seamlessly delivered invisibly each time the program is launched. As your reading this, users are trying out ajaxWrite and giving us feedback in the forums. The changes and fixes are almost immediately implemented so the next ajaxWrite user sees the benefit.

Because these programs utilize browser technology and push some processing to servers, they can be small, which minimizes hardware requirements. Typically new versions of desktop software fatten up and soak up all available PC performance and run slowly on older PCs. ajaxWrite is moving in the opposite direction. It's a slim 400K. You read that right - its size is less than one megabyte, which means it runs equally well on a low-powered laptop as well as a high-powered desktop.

As you probably surmised from the names ajaxLaunch and ajaxWrite, we are using AJAX technology to deliver this software magic. But unlike other AJAX efforts that have produced web-based programs with awkward user interfaces, our programs look and operate like traditional software applications. Therefore, there is no need to learn a new interface with awkward buttons or browser-based interfaces.

I encourage you to try ajaxWrite.com from Firefox 1.5, or newer, and experience the future of software firsthand. There's no cost. No registration required. Nothing to install. Not even an email address is required. We've constructed a FAQ at ajaxLaunch.com which will give you more technical details. Please also take a minute to share your perspective in our
forum about this and other AJAX software that we'll be unveiling.

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