There’s a revolution brewing on your desktop.
For years, software makers and Web boosters have been forecasting that the Internet would break Microsoft Corp.’s stranglehold over business software. Instead of buying a copy of, say, Microsoft Word and installing it on your computer, you would travel to a Web site, type and edit your document there and store it online. The fee would be tiny compared with the cost of buying Microsoft’s software, and you wouldn’t have to pay anyone to troubleshoot the program or update it.
Now a host of small software companies — and some Internet giants like Google — are bringing that vision closer to reality. A quick search online will yield a host of inexpensive — or free — online alternatives to Microsoft’s widely used software. With names like Writely, ThinkFree and AjaxWrite, these offerings cover the gamut of standard desktop applications — from word processors to spreadsheets to email.