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Office Web Apps: More Office, more collaborative, more devices

Office Web AppsMicrosoft has a fully featured, inclusive approach to productivity that spans platforms, devices, browsers, online and offline experiences. After more than two decades delivering the world’s most familiar and trusted productivity tools, we’re incredibly proud that more than 1 billion people worldwide have chosen to use Office.

When we launched the Office Web Apps in 2010, they were companions to the Office desktop experience that enabled lightweight, on-the-go content creation and review. Since then, we’ve made a number of investments in Office Web Apps to make it easier for people to work together, author documents and access Office content from virtually any device.

As we think about how people communicate and collaborate today and how their needs will evolve in the future, we’d like to share our plans for some of the investments we are making in the Office Web Apps over the next year and beyond.

We’re extending more of the Office experience to the Office Web Apps

Our goal is to deliver Office Web Apps that people can rely on to create polished Office documents from start to finish, all from the Web. Since we first launched Office Web Apps, browser technologies and speeds have advanced and the development infrastructure has matured, making the Web a better platform on which to build Office and more quickly innovate on the Web. With these improvements, we’re better able to deliver a comprehensive productivity experience with the Office Web Apps.

To realize our goal of a great Office experience on the Web we’re investing in three areas: user experience, social and collaboration, and broad cross platform browser support. You’ll see us introducing a collection of authoring features that make it easier to collaborate in the cloud, a new real time co-authoring experience and editing capabilities from more devices.

Online user experience

We tend to see consistent customer feedback around the next must have features people consider essential to their Office experience. We’ve prioritized features that make it easier to work via the Web, including things as simple as adding find and replace in Word Web App to improving the general experience by speeding up launch times and making file management simpler. While we’ll continue to deliver a great Office experience on the desktop, Office Web Apps provide yet another option for Office customers to be more productive. With these changes, you’ll get uncompromised productivity anytime and anywhere you choose to work.

Edit from Android tablets

The Office Web Apps also serve as a key connection point between Office and the expanding array of devices our customers use. We enable you to access Office content and tools from your device of choice through cross browser support on those devices where Office isn’t installed or available. The full power of the Office Web Apps is already available for Windows 8 tablets and iPads and we will be extending the same capabilities to Android tablets via mobile Chrome browser support.

From same-time to real-time co-authoring

Today, we have co-authoring capabilities across Office Web Apps and the Office desktop applications that allow multiple editors to work in a single document at the same time. Collaboration is highly flexible, allowing you to work together at the same time when everyone is online or even when working offline all while preserving the rich formatting and design of your document and ensuring users don’t edit on top of each other.

Since first introducing co-authoring in the Office Web Apps, we’ve seen an increasing demand for more fluid and dynamic collaboration capabilities when working online. We’ll introduce real time co-authoring in the Office Web Apps so that all file authors will automatically see presence and edits from others as they happen without needing to refresh. This is a subtle change, but a great enhancement to enable even richer collaboration.

We have started to deliver on this in the PowerPoint Web App where users can now see each other’s changes almost immediately. You can see it in action in the video below or give it a try yourself with your presentations stored in SkyDrive or SharePoint Online. In the next few months you’ll see PowerPoint Web App co-authoring get even faster and real time co-authoring support in the other Office Web Apps.

By building more Office tools for the web, improving on our collaboration experiences and continued commitment to broad browser support customers will be able to use Office as easily on the web as on their desktop. Throughout the process your feedback helps inform how we prioritize future capabilities and improvements to the Office experience. The collaboration with you is essential as we embark on the next chapter in our journey to put Office in the cloud. Share your thoughts here in comments or through our customer feedback tool within the Office Web Apps.

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20 comments
  1. Great news. One idea. Is it possible to add in OWA for business (Office 365) and in Outlook for home edition too, taskmail view sorted by category? Today in OWA we can sort taskse-mails by date, flags, importance etc.. but category no.

  2. Will it be possible to make small edits to Office docs via Chrome on an Android Smartphone too?

    • Robert – For devices, our current priority is to bring editing to tablets. For smartphones, the priority is to provide reliable viewing. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Ever tried opening OneNote as a WebApp on an Android Device using Chrome? Does exactly … nothing! I really, really, want it to work though …. :(

  4. Real-time co-authoring isn’t a subtle change. Honestly, I think it’s a game-changer and it was the biggest thing I’ve missed since switching from Google Docs to SkyDrive.

  5. @slimak- Thank you much for your feedback on adding the ability to sort by categories in Outlook Web App (OWA). We appreciate your input and will take it under consideration.

    Meanwhile, you can search for categories to bring the relevant items to the top. You can use the following query format in the OWA search box – “category: xyz" where ‘xyz’ is the name of the category you are searching for.

  6. Looking at Office 365 for a client of mine and I’m astonished by how much Microsoft product knowledge (not my strongpoint) is required to implement it – SharePoint, Lync (Online?), SkyDrive Pro (not to be confused with SkyDrive), Exchange (I think, not sure), ActiveSync(?), Office 365 accounts vs. Microsoft accounts (formerly Live Office IDs or something or other) and so on. Hopefully Office 365 will become a real integrated cloud product , and soon, but at the moment it seems to be a collection of partially integrated bits and pieces. Good for consultanting fees of course.

  7. Finally, looks like my wish about Excel, to be able to see, on which cell your colleague is standing and has selected at the other end of Skype conversation, looks to come true. This is a must.

  8. Honestly not a very reliable environment. I have lost a multitude of file changes. Can not install a second install (I have five) because I keep getting a message like my connection is slow. Not the case. The Office 365 Word constantly freezes, or does not load. This webware is the worst software/webware in recent memory as far as I am concerned. Money wasted unless there is a quick fix I am missing…..

  9. Please consider these improvements for next releases:
    Add ability to add / edit footnotes and endnotes
    Add header & footer support (especially to the Word Web App)
    Add Find and replace
    Add Format painter
    Autosave

    • @Ronaldt and @Mantvydas – Thanks for the feedback, the team loves to see how real users prioritize features and scenarios.

  10. I am very disappointed that Microsoft is lagging so far behind Google in the real-time co-authoring space. We use Google Docs for our students and our faculty and staff have all but switched to it because of the ease of collaboration it brings. The MS implementation of this is cluncky at best and only available for PowerPoint. Make it available for Word and Excel and you’ve got a Google Docs killer. Until then, you will have to live with egg on your face. Oh, and releasing it only for O365 doesn’t count. It needs to be released for on-prem Office Web Apps/SharePoint installs too.

    • Hi Jason – Students are exactly the type of user we are designing for, so we appreciate your perspective. Today, co-authoring is available across the Office Web Apps (PowerPoint, Word, Excel and OneNote). And we agree, our plan is to improve our co-authoring capabilities across SharePoint and our consumer service (available via SkyDrive.com).

  11. As usual, MS is pitching futures to their customers with no timelines to delivery. So, MS is promising features Google had back in like 2007…way to innovate.

  12. Hello
    Please forgive my English, Spanish is my native language.
    I do not know if this is the perfect place to make my doubts.
    Why visual basic is not improved as its component programs?.
    Say in another way: Why the Office is part of the digital age, while the VBA continuous in the prehistory?. At leats until Office 2007 versión.

    Bye

  13. Office 365 sure is hard work.

    Having finally found categories and how to manage them (buried in the ‘extra …’ menu items for individual emails) it turns out, after a lot of fruitless investigation, that you can’t actually use them to, yes, categorise your emails, because they can’t be used in an email search!

  14. Hey, peeps. Will it be possible to automate certain processes over SkyDrive and Office Web Apps, using some form of scripting? Something like Google Apps Script. This could boost the usefulness, and I’m sure it would be a huge opportunity for developers such as myself.

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