Zoho may not be as famous as Google or Microsoft, but it’s developed numerous apps that compete with G Suite and Microsoft Office.
Today’s Best Tech Deals
Picked by PCWorld’s Editors
Top Deals On Great Products
Picked by Techconnect’s Editors
Zoho on Thursday introduced Zoho Workplace, a cloud-first suite of nine office productivity tools that are more tightly integrated than ever before.Â Zoho Workplace ties nine of Zohoâ€™s existing productivity apps into a web-based UI. Itâ€™s reminiscent of the sort of app ribbon that unites some of Microsoftâ€™s Office products, such as Outlook, or the icon menu that you can click while working in Google Docs, for example. Zoho
Zohoâ€™s Workplace dashboard.
The new Workplace connects the nine basic Zoho apps: its Writer word processor, Sheet spreadsheet, and Show collaborative presentation software; the WorkDrive cloud storage app; the Mail email, Meeting videoconferencing, and Cliq messaging apps; as well as the ShowTime online training app and Zohoâ€™s Connect social Internet app. If youâ€™re a Zoho One customer, youâ€™ll have access to Workplace, according to Taylor Backman, a senior evangelist for the company.So who is Zoho? While Googleâ€™s G Suite goes toe-to-toe with Microsoft 365 and Office, Zoho has quietly established itself with 15 million users across 2 million organizations. Zohoâ€™s share pales in comparison to Microsoftâ€™s, which reported 42.7 million consumer Office subscribers in its latest quarter, excluding the corporate users it doesnâ€™t disclose. But Zohoâ€™s platform, at least on paper, offers many of the same features, all for Workplace pricing plans that range from $1 to $3 to $6 per user, per month. The private company also has numerous specialized apps for CRM to IT management to web-based sales, even as its Wikipedia entry runs just a handful of sentences.Â Zoho
Zohoâ€™s Mail app, within the Workplace UI environment.
According to Backman, the new Workplace doesnâ€™t offer anything new in terms of apps. What Zoho is trying to do is integrate the separate Workplace apps into a cohesive whole. â€śSo at the top of the screen, when you log in, youâ€™ll see all the tools that you can use. You have a sort of canvas-like dashboard that brings together all the data from these different tools, which you can customize as you see fit,â€ť Backman said.At the bottom of the screen, Zoho is building in a taskbar that can be used as an interface to launch chat or videoconferencing apps like Meeting, in case users canâ€™t hash it out in Mail or the Cliq social app. Finally, Backman said, Zoho is building in an enterprise search bar that will allow users to find a document or coworker quickly.Â Zoho
Zohoâ€™s cross-app search tool, Zia, allows users to quickly find relevant documents.
While Microsoft has developed Teams both for business as well as virtual classrooms, Zoho is playing it straight. Workplace is being designed for businesses first and foremost. Businesses may mix and match elements of the UI as they see fit.For now, Workplace exists as a strictly web-based UI. While Zoho does have mobile apps like Zoho Meeting, Projects, and Zoho One, Backman said that Zoho is discussing how to integrate them and their UI without overwhelming users.While itâ€™s becoming more commonplace for apps to be integratedâ€”email and calendaring now are essentially one and the same, for exampleâ€”Zohoâ€™s pushing hard to make integration, say, with Mail and Writer and Cliq part and parcel of the platform. Backman says that Zoho is also designing consciously with home work in mind, with APIs that allow users to set an â€śaway,â€ť â€śout of officeâ€ť or â€śin a callâ€ť status that ripples through the other apps within Workplace. Zoho
Zohoâ€™s Cliq social app.
Will you end up using Zoho? Probably not, unless your business signs up for the service. Still, trying to establish a leadership position as part of a new work-at-home mindset gives this spunky productivity company a new way to nip at the heels of the Google and Microsoft behemoths.Â
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats.