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Collaboration just got easier: Real-time co-authoring now available in Office Web Apps

A document is only as good as the people who contribute to it. So today, we’re introducing a new way for people to collaborate on documents with Office Web Apps.

Using real-time co-authoring, colleagues, friends and family can contribute and edit documents simultaneously in the Word Web App, PowerPoint Web App or Excel Web App. New real-time presence helps you see where your co-authors are working in the document so that you don’t create conflicts as you edit. Additionally, the new ability to see changes to text and formatting as they happen will help you and your co-authors stay on the same page as your ideas develop and evolve.

And because Office Web Apps now save as you go, your team’s edits are included and seen as they happen.

Don’t know about Office Web Apps? You should. Office Web Apps are the best free alternative to Office. They are online versions of the core Office applications and extend the Office experience you know and love with anytime, anywhere online editing and collaboration on Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote files.

Working together with Office

With the introduction of real-time co-authoring, the Office collaboration experience takes your ability to work with others to the next level. Whether working from the Web, desktop, a Windows tablet or iPad, a mobile device, offline or online, Office provides you the tools to work together in ways that fit your needs.

For example, your whole team can choose to work in the Web Apps for a highly collaborative working meeting to get a shared project done. But what if somebody on your team isn’t available? That teammate can choose to make revisions when he’s able, even from the Office applications on his computer. His changes will sync up to the document stored in the cloud when he saves.

And if that teammate goes offline? He can continue to work in the document using the full power of the Office applications and when he gets back online, his changes will be synced back up for the team to see.  So now, when working together with Office you get the collaborative power of the Web with the feature depth of the desktop applications on your PC, or Mac, for a no compromise collaboration experience.

What else is new?

In addition to adding co-authoring, we’ve updated each of the Office Web Apps to bring the Office experience you know and trust to the Web.

In Word Web App, you’ll get improved formatting controls for polished documents. New features include ability to find and replace words and phrases, apply styles and formatting to tables, and insert headers and footers for more professional reports and papers. Visit the Word blog to see full details of the new work in Word Web App.

In Excel Web App, the new ability to drag and drop cells and reorder sheets makes it easier to work with spreadsheets online. The Excel Web App will give you a quick analysis of a range of data right in the status bar, including sum, count, and average of a selected range of cells. And we now support more workbook types online, you can now open and interact with spreadsheets that have Sheet Protection. For more details about the updates in Excel Web App, read this post on the Excel Blog.

In PowerPoint Web App, new picture cropping functionality gives you more control of the visuals in your presentations. And to make managing your files online more streamlined, you can now change the name of your files within the editing window of PowerPoint Web App, and across the other Office Web Apps.

What’s next from Office Web Apps?

Over the next several months, we’ll deliver on previously promised updates. Notably, we’re still on track to enable editing from Android tablets, so you can access Office files and tools from even more devices. And of course, we’ll continue to bring the Office features that you value most to the Web so you can more easily create Office files from start to finish online.

And now…

Start collaborating! These changes are being rolled out today and coincide with Microsoft’s Get It Done Day–a day where we are shining a light on how people all over the world are using Office 365 and productivity tools to get the job done. From anywhere. Offline or online. To learn more about Get It Done Day please go to the Office News blog.

Within the next few days, all Office Web Apps users working in SkyDrive and Office 365 will have real-time co-authoring capabilities and new features. Try them, let us know how it goes and tell us what you want to see next from Office on the Web.

Go to SkyDrive.live.com to get started and join us today while we #GetItDone!

Join the conversation

18 comments
  1. Great news!

    Is there any information on how and when this real-time editing functionality will come to the on-premises version? (Office Web Apps Server)

  2. @c_heindel – Glad you like the Excel Web App updates! The Office Web Apps Server will be updated with real-time co-authoring, but I don’t have time to share today. marypcbuk is correct in that Office Web Apps are free via SkyDrive. You are correct that they are also part of the paid Office 365 service for commercial customers.

    • that is a timeline to share today.

    • Thanks @Amanda ! I understand that Office Web Apps are free for SkyDrive and Office 365, but they are not free for edit for the users of SharePoint Online or On-premise. I was just commenting on the generic statement, that can be misleading. Anyways, thanks for clarification!

      Another thing is, as you mentioned Apps Server updates timeline is not available, there appears to be a trend where more and more features would be made available to O365/SharePoint Online first (or exclusive) and there might be a delay in sync. Example: External links, Yammer Integration.

      This may call for a serious re-strategy for ISPs like us, as this may leave our On-premise customers under served.

    • We need a timetable for Office Web Apps Server. My organization is going to pretty upset since we use both on-premise and O365. They are not going to like two different Office Web Apps floating around.

  3. Now, how about mounting shared folders in your own SkyDrive?

  4. I’m trying everything, but it doesn’t work with me. Do I need to update specific programs?

    • Hi @EmielEigenraam, are you trying on Office 365 or On-premise? Currently these changes are applicable to 365.

      • We are having the same issue through Office365. The save button has not magically disappeared, and we are getting errors about not having permission to save a document — even if you were the one who created it. Not sure if others are having the same issue, but it’s making document editing/sharing a real pain today.

    • You don’t need to update anything, the updates are rolling out now to the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive and Office Web Apps as part of the Office 365 service. If you are using Office Web Apps on-premises, the new functionality will come as part of a future server update.

  5. New real-time presence feature in excel will be helpful, as our team had issues while co-authoring excel where each other’s changes were overwritten.

    The blog mentions that Office Web Apps are the best free alternative to Office.

    They are not free. Customer need to commit to Volume Licencing. Isn’t it?

    • Office Web Apps are free to anyone with a Microsoft account for working on files in SkyDrive; you also get them as part of SharePointand that lets you edit files stored in SharePoint and SkyDrive Pro

  6. I am glad that Office Web Apps have finally caught up to Google Drive with real-time collaboration. Our new projects can try this now.

  7. Dear Office team, congratulations to every one of you! :-D

  8. MyCloud will be a whole lot better today….thanks! :)

  9. This was one of my three main issues with 365 that has made me use Google Apps for everything collaborative until now. Still need to be able to sync shared folders to my computers so that I can edit with the vastly more powerful office suite, and to have more of the suite’s formatting available online.

  10. This is good. Now the best and most important thing from the educational point of view is the skydrive pro. If SDP, can sync roaming profiles this will be the biggest leap as more schools and perhaps organisations are in this path having their profile synced with skydrive pro and these updates would perfectly compliment it.

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