The announcement of the Private Alpha of Zoho Notebook during DEMO ’07 had a high impact among bloggers and journalists alike. Here’s some choicest quotes from around the net :

Harry McCracken at PC World :

One of the most impressive things I saw here at the DEMO conference (which wrapped up this evening) is a Web service that’s still in a private alpha version. As such, it has every right to be rough around the edges, and it is–but it’s also, in some important respects, among the most sophisticated Web-applications I’ve seen. It’s Zoho Notebook–the latest in an every-expanding array of productivity tools from the folks at Zoho–and while it’s reminiscent of Microsoft’s OneNote note-taking application, I’ve never seen anything like it on the Web. (Google Notebook has a similar name and vaguely similar concept, but it’s not in the same league when it comes to features, slickness, and general ambition.)

Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web :

Zoho Notebook is an online app that works in both Firefox and IE browsers. You can create many different types of content, including text, image, audio, video, drawings. With audio, Zoho Notebook comes with a recorder – or you can get your audio from the Web or in your file system. And with the video, you can insert it from a service like YouTube, or record from your webcam straight into Notebook. Zoho Notebook will also come with a browser plug-in, similar to Google Notebook.

Nick Gonzalez at TechCrunch :

Each notebook allows very fine grained access control. You can publish a book publicly to a static URL, share just a page, or share just an object on a page by granting read and write privileges to other Zoho members. They’ve also integrated Skype status right into the objects, pages, and books so that you can chat to collaborate with the users you’re sharing with. In the release, they plan on also adding a Zoho chat box to provide another way to connect for members not on Skype so you can edit in real time. Each object and page has version controls as well.

Marc Orchant at ZDNet:

… object level control extends beyond layering on the page and allows me to set the access rights of an object individually. So I can create a text box that can be freely edited while providing directions or other information as read-only content. The permissions can be granted on a per user basis which is, as far as I know, unprecedented for an application like this.

Barbara Krasnoff at InfomartionWeek :

The ability to share your work with others is one of the major advantages of online applications. Zoho’s heart is in the right place — the app lets you share whole notebooks, pages, or even separate objects on a page, either by hitting the “Actions” button that is at the bottom right of every object, or the “Share” button at the top of every page.

Rafe Needleman at c|net Webware :

There are several Web start-ups that I see over and over again at new-tech conferences but none that launch a new product at each show. That’s certainly what it feels like Zoho does. “Look, it’s another conference! Let’s launch another product.”So here we are at Demo 07, and of course Zoho’s got something new: Notebook. If you’ve used Microsoft’s OneNote, you’ll grok it pretty quickly. It’s a content editing system that lets you create multiple sheets in one document. You use tabs across the top for major sections, and into each section you can add pages as subtabs that are displayed along the right. I’ve used OneNote, and like Zoho, its notebook metaphor works well for keeping notes and for organizing your thoughts on big, complex projects.

And our advisors, Ismael Ghalimi

Zoho is running faster than anybody else in developing the core technologies that are required for delivering an integrated Office 2.0 experience. You can think of it as the Office 2.0 equivalent of DCOM and OLE. For Microsoft, it took about ten years to get a first version running. For Zoho, it took less than one. Granted, we do not have the same level of integration yet, but it’s coming fast. Really fast…

and Zoli Erdos :

NoteBook is unquestionably the sleekest of all Zoho apps, and a technological marvel. There are clearly specific target demographics, like students, where an All-In-One notetaker is the killer app.

Keith Shaw at InfoWorld :

You’re generally thought of as being crazy when you try to bring a product to market against one giant behemoth. What do you call a company that tries to bring a product to market against two goliaths?

That’s the challenge facing Zoho , which will launch its Zoho Notebook online office application at DEMO 2007. Not only is Zoho trying to convince users to switch from Microsoft Office, but it’s also trying to persuade people not try Google’s online office applications.

We got some very good feedback from Dennis Howlett

When it’s importing a document like a PDF, I’d like an hour glass or something to visually indicate what’s happening. At present you just see a blank screen with notification of activity relegated to the bottom left hand side of the screen. I don’t care what anyone says, staring at a blank screen when you expect something to be happening is scary.

and Stowe Boyd

The limitations of the pre-beta — I got invited — are pretty steep: I crashed Safari, and there are several types of pages I can’t seem to create at all.

But I excited about the bottom-up model of sharing: bits of content can be shared from pages and books independently.

If they can get the niddly bugs ironed out and performance a bit zippier I would be very happy to give it a head-up comparison with OneNote and Stikkit, which is the organizer I am working on at the moment.

And Robert Scoble mentioned it twice, here and here.

Thanks a lot to all you folks and every blogger, journalist & Zoho fan out there who tested Zoho Notebook, took note of the launch, blogged about it! Watch out for more from Zoho 🙂

Update : Jack Schofield at Guardian Unlimited declares Zoho as the ‘winner’ at DEMO 07.

Update : Michael J. Miller at PC Magazine lists Zoho among his Top 5 products at DEMO ’07.

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