Adobe's Buzzword Fails To Compete With Google Docs

I'll say this: Adobe's Buzzword, a cloud computing word processor, sure is pretty. That will be the last positive comment I make about Buzzword, though, which trades functionality for form, simplicity for style, and substance, for, er, Flash.

As many of you surely know, I am a daily user of Google's Docs software. For a change, this post is actually being written in Buzzword, a new online tool from Adobe, purveyor of Flash technology. Adobe also is offering up an online conference tool called ConnectNow, as well as a PDF creator and a repository for you to store and share online files.

First, the sign-up and sign-in process was simply arduous. With absolutely no exaggeration, it took 15 minutes to create and confirm an account, and then sign in and wait for the software to sort itself out. In comparison, I can get from Zero to Productive in about 30 seconds with Google Docs. Just for kicks, I signed back out and back in to Buzzword. The initial loading process of the software takes several minutes. That didn't change even though I attempted it three separate times. That's way too long for a sign-in process. (I checked my broadband speeds: 10.5 Mbps down, and 1.8 Mbps up. That should be plenty fast to load some Flash software.)

The user interface takes Google's simplicity and chucks it out the window. Smooth, gorgeous animations float all about the screen as you mouse over action items and icons. Along the top of the document is the expected set of document tools that allow you to change the font, type size, coloring, formatting, and so on. To the right of that is a set of six different expandable icons that let you do a few other things, such as insert paragraphs, lists, images, tables, etc.

In the bottom left corner of the screen is a "share" button. Clicking this lets you share the document with other users. You can also access you other documents stored on Adobe's servers.

The style of the user interface was obviously crafted carefully. The animations are all nice and fun to interact with, but I have to question how much fun it will really be day in and day out.

Was this document created successfully? Yes. Can I share it with others? Yes. Does it perform the basic functions of word processing without too much fuss? Yes.

But as Google has added functionality to its Docs programs over the last 18 months, I find them to be richer in overall usefulness.

Buzzword is a good first effort. I expect Adobe to make improvements over time.