Office 365 is an online version of Microsoft Office suite for Windows. To use it, the user should sign up for a trial version or pay the subscription amount for a month or the entire year.

If the subscription costs of MS Office 365 is heavy in your pocket, sign up for Open365, a new cloud service similar to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs. The service is in beta stage, but you’re allowed to sign up and have a glimpse of its various tools and features.

Open365 is open source and free. It has been built with the open source LibreOffice online project and is quite amazing.

Getting started

Head over to the official O365 website to register a free account. While creating an account, you’ll be assigned a particular email address. You’ll have to use this email ID as a user ID. Once the website verifies your login credentials, you’ll be redirected to a neat and well-designed dashboard.

The panel boasts a menubar along with a library, personal and shared folders sections. The personal folder has three sections, libraries, starred and devices. You can create as many libraries as you want. While building a library, you’ll be given the option to enable encryption support and set a password for the library.

Within a library, you’ll find functions to upload, create documents and folders. You’ll also find a list of documents along with their size and last modified date of the file. Open365 supports editing of files created with the Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.

To begin editing a file, just click on its name from your personal library. Open365 has an option to share files via hyperlinks. You can set an expiry time for the shared URLs. This application lets users share their documents with individual users or a lot of users (groups). It has an option to delete the files. Deleted documents will be sent to the trash folder of Open365.

Open365 allows you to create and manage groups. In a group, you can quickly start a discussion with fellow members. You can add members by using the user search tool of this application. To add members in bulk, save their email IDs in a CSV file and use the import tool of Open365.

Members can upload their avatar picture. The group admin can transfer a member from one group to the other.

Before sharing a document with other users, you can assign read-only or read-write permissions for it. The shared stuff will appear under Share Admin section in the main dashboard.

Open365 has setting’s panel where you’ll find a utility to rename libraries and control your activity logging, shared links, file sharing permissions. It has a history section where you can check your activities.

This application has a Wiki module that allows you to create a Personal Wiki entry. To create one, click on the gear icon that appears above the personal folder section, select the module and click on submit button.

Like the Office 365 cloud platform, Open365 allows you to sync files. Thus, you’ll be able to edit your presentations, documents or spreadsheets from home, office or any other location.

Open365 is offering a whopping 20 GB of free cloud storage memory to save your documents. That’s a huge volume of free space because the project is open source and doesn’t involve any subscription fee.

This open source online office suite features a cloud-based email app though which you can compose/manage emails, contacts, calendars, notes and to-do lists. This app is a web version of KMail, a popular desktop based email client for Linux KDE environments. It is easy to use.

Client apps with full drag and drop support are in development. They will increase the productivity and help you sync files faster. Open365 foundation will launch Office clients for the Microsoft Windows, Google Android, and Apple IOS operating systems.

To manage or check which clients are currently connected with your Open365 account, navigate to the devices section of the dashboard.

To find people, click on the discussion icon and enter the person’s name in the text search box. Search results will be displayed on the fly.

Conclusion: This web application is a powerful alternative to Google Docs, Office365, Zoho and many other websites that allow you to create and manage your documents online.

The biggest advantage of Open365 over other platforms is that you can install a client app on your mobile device or Windows PC for faster file syncing. You can install Open365 on your servers.

Open365 also allow you to manage groups of users, manage emails online. You’ll not find these two features in Google Docs

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