Zoho offers office software for businesses — hangs with Google, Microsoft

zoho.pngZoho just won’t stop.

The company offers a suite of free, web-based office software, and faces daunting competition from Google Apps, not to mention Microsoft Office (previous coverage). Today it is announces a “business” version today, intended to make it secure enough for businesses to use.

The rap on this company is that its user interface isn’t the prettiest. But it is relentless in its execution, releasing about a feature a week, and on the whole has remained on a par with competitors and exceeding them in many areas. It recently began integrating its applications on a single page, a feature that keeps it competitive with Google Docs.

This version will include centralized user and group management, stronger SSL-based security measures, remote backup, phone support, a special “console” view for administrators and other organization-focused features. Users will get the usual access to the long list of Zoho products: Writer, Sheet, Notebook, Show, Email, Wiki, etc. See demo below.

Zoho will keep a free version of its products available, but is tentatively planning to charge around $40 per user per year for this version.

Zoho is part of a Pleasanton-based private company, AdventNet.

Zoho Business is currently available in private beta, but the company hopes to move to public beta next month and be fully available by early next year.

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