Michael Robertson announced ajaxWrite today, a downloadable AJAX based word processor, that runs in Firefox. The description on the website reads:
ajaxWrite is a streamlined word processor, comparable to Microsoft Word. To keep the program lean, we left out some obscure advanced features; you’ll find the functions you use most often, right where you’d expect them to be. (We’re still working on the spell checker.)
Om Malik writes:
Go to the website, hit the “ajaxwrite’ button, a new window opens up, and while it looks like a cut rate wordprocessor, it gives you an interface that is remarkably familair – circa 1994.
The devil’s in the details. ajaxWrite is more comparable to Wordpad, the free "word processor" that has shipped with every copy of Microsoft Windows since Windows 95, rather than a real word processor. 95% of it’s features are the same as Wordpad. Differences are minor – Wordpad can’t save a PDF file, but ajaxWrite can. ajaxWrite has a nifty highlighter feature, which Wordpad lacks, as well. But ajaxWrite can’t search a document, do a print preview, or show rulers on screen, all of which Wordpad can do.
Is it enough? Well, recently one of my high school kids got a new PC. I hadn’t yet installed Word on it. He had to write an essay for school, and I suggested that he could use Wordpad to get started. There was a chorus of "are you crazy?", and "Wordpad’s useless" from the others (I have five children). So, I installed Word on the PC.
Michael, you’ve got great instincts, but this version of ajaxWrite is a dud. It’s no better than Wordpad. Wordpad’s already free and on every PC that has shipped for more than 10 years, and even school kids won’t use it.