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Office Live WebApps Launch/Mini-Review

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

On Tuesday June 8, Microsoft released the built-in Office Live WebApps via Skydrive, making it possible for Office users to create and edit documents over the Internet via a web browser, rather than worry about needing to depend on having the applications installed on the terminal or PC/laptop they are using.

These web-accessible applications include slimmed-down, on-line versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

In this mini-review, I have included screen-shots of the main OLWA layout as well as individual screen-shots of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

When using the WebApps, I have tested all features using a recently updated instance of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.3.

For each App, Microsoft claims fidelity and full usage/access to each scaled-back feature set, supporting a wide range of web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Apple Safari.

NOTE: Each Preview picture can be CLICKED so that you can see the details on each screen in FULL SIZE.

MS Office Web Apps - Primary Document Creation PagePrimary Office Web Apps Document Creation Page/Screen on Windows Live
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Microsoft Office Word Web AppMicrosoft Word WebApp
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Microsoft Excel 2010 Web App

Microsoft Excel WebApp
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PowerPoint Web App - Slide View
PowerPoint WebApp – Slide View
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The PowerPoint Web App has selection screens for both the starting template (there doesn’t seem to be an option to make a blank presentation, for some reason)
as well as the type of slide layout you might wish to use when adding new slides to the presentation:

PowerPoint Web App - Theme Selection
PowerPoint WebApp – Theme Selection
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PowerPoint Web App - New Slide Layout SelectionPowerPoint WebApp – New Slide Layout Selection
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MINI-REVIEW:

While I like the idea of the Web Apps in theory, in practice, it’s not quite as consistent as I’d like.

For example, some apps have a save button whereas others will inform you that the document “auto-saves” whenever you select the File Tab.

While you can autocomplete some formulas in Excel, you don’t have access to things like AutoFill, which is really a killer-app style feature and one that would have been welcome.

In Excel, Tables and Pivot Tables are noticeably absent, and in Word, pagination and line-feed control through simple things like SHIFT-ENTER is either tricky or non-existent.

For many who are making on-line or remote edits, PowerPoint is certainly the App Microsoft seems to have poured most of their energy into, though there are times when some of the selection screens do take several seconds to load.

It’s also worth mentioning that each app has a separate WebSite address that requires the user to register individual cookies to track usage, as well as to set up the layout for each application.

Once cached, however, subsequent uses load much faster.

Each app allows the user to save the document locally as well as by remote, as well as allowing for full-access via the installed application if they have Office 2010 Beta or Final installed.

In short, Microsoft Web Apps claims much, and delivers some.

Some upgrades and adjustments will be needed if it is to completely replace on-line applications such as Google Apps, but as a companion to the existing suite, it’s a very promising start.

WHERE DO I GO TO USE THE WEBAPPS?

You can sign up for access and use the WebApps via your Internet web browser, at  http://office.live.com/.

If you already have an existing Hotmail account, the sign-up process is relatively short.

Once you sign in using your password, clicking on the Skydrive or Office Web Apps links will take you to the main screen, where you can either create or upload/edit Office documents.

SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS AND ADDITIONS TO THE WEBAPPS:

I’d like to see a few more features and some improvements in each app, such as, proper line-space handling in Word, and Auto-Fill in Excel.

I’d also like to see WebApp versions of Visio and Project, allowing for on-line distribution and editing collaboration at a basic level for those apps as well.

I intend to update this mini-review with my thoughts on OneNote and overall WebApp functionality soon.

-Mark