|17 Sep 2009||#1|
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Office Web Apps enter limited Technical Preview
Microsoft Office Web Apps today entered Technical Preview status. A limited number of invitation-only participants are getting access to Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, in English and Japanese. Testers will be able to access the apps through Windows Live SkyDrive, but the OneNote app will not be available. Microsoft also said that it has finalized the formal names of the apps: together they will be referred to as Office Web Apps and individually they will include Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote Web App.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed with Ars that the Technical Preview is very limited. It only allows the ability to
view Word documents
view, edit and create Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations
share documents with others
"Web Apps aren't feature complete by any means at this point, and we will continue to update this service as we receive customer feedback and go through the testing phase," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars.
The OneNote Web App and additional Office Web App features, including further integration with Microsoft Office 2010 and additional languages, will be added later this fall. There will also be a publish capability, which allows Office documents to be embedded in blogs, social networking sites, and other websites.
Microsoft emphasized that the Technical Preview program is solely designed to collect customer feedback prior to the broad release of the service. After the Technical Preview milestone, the Office Web Apps will be updated and will be released as a broadly available beta. They will officially launch next year. Microsoft promised to frequently update the service based on new user feedback after that. Once they become available to the public, they will be accessible through a Documents tab on Windows Live, news of which leaked out in August 2009.
Microsoft also made sure to point out that since 500 million people use Microsoft Office every day at work and at home, they are familiar and comfortable with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote already. In short, it's not necessary to learn another program or service. Office Web Apps make sure the user doesn't need to learn anything new since they are just online extensions of the well-known desktop applications (the application interfaces are very similar) and documents maintain their fidelity regardless of whether the user is using the cloud or desktop version.
Office Web Apps will integrate with Microsoft Office 2003 and later, in addition to supporting the following browsers: Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.5 on Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as Safari 4 on Mac. In August 2009 we learned that the apps will run on mobile browsers but testers won't likely be able to test them in such a scenario anytime soon. Redmond has emphasized time and again the apps will work well across different browsers without any plugins installed, but that Silverlight will play an optional role. For example, we already know that Silverlight will be used to improve the experience of at least two Office Web apps.
The most ambitious goal Microsoft is striving for with Office 2010 is making it available via a familiar experience across the PC, phone, and browser. Microsoft first announced the apps in October 2008 at PDC. In July 2009, Microsoft disclosed that the apps would be available in three flavors: at no cost but with ads through Windows Live, on-premises for all Office volume licensing business customers hosted with Microsoft SharePoint Server on-premises, and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.
Source: Office Web Apps enter limited Technical Preview - Ars Technica
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