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Editor’s note: On Monday, we unveiled the new Office. On Tuesday, we shared more details on Office and the Cloud and how we give you the flexibility of the browser with the power and responsiveness of rich clients. Today we dig deeper into the capabilities and technology behind the new Office Web Apps, which are available on SkyDrive and Office 365 Preview. The Office Web Apps extend your Office experience to the web allowing you to access, edit, and share your Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents in a web browser. Mike Morton, Group Program Manager for Office Web Applications joins the blog to explain.
I’m excited to talk about updates to the Office Web Apps, which are now available live on SkyDrive and the Office 365 Preview. You can try out the new Office Web Apps on SkyDrive by signing in using this special link or you can participate in the Office 365 Preview. Either way, you will get the same new Office Web Apps when you create or click on a Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote document.
In this post I'll talk about some of the new functionality in the Office Web Apps as well as discuss how they have evolved over time.
As we have developed the Office Web Apps we have done so with the following principles:
We were very excited when we had the first release of the Office Web Apps in June 2010. Since then we have continually added capabilities based on customer feedback. During that time we have grown our usage to approximately 50 million people a month. We are very pleased with its success! Over the past two years, we have also received feedback on how the Office Web Apps could be better. We've worked hard to incorporate this feedback while building upon our principles. This update is by far the most significant we have ever done and we hope others are as excited about the changes as we are!
For this release we've focused on these four scenarios:
We made significant investments to improve the editing and formatting experiences. You can now create, edit, and finish more professional looking documents within the Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote Web App. Of course we've also maintained full compatibility with the Office file formats, so you can transition back and forth between Office on the desktop, the web browser, and mobile devices.
With the initial release of the Office Web Apps it was easy to create basic documents or make quick edits to more complex documents. However it wasn't always easy or possible to achieve the final formatting, layout, or presentation that many users have to come to expect from Office documents. With this latest update of the Office Web Apps, it is now possible to create great looking Word documents, sophisticated spreadsheets, and dynamic presentations. Some of the highlights include:
(Pictured above -- new layout view in the Word editor)
(Pictured above -- adding a transition in the PowerPoint Web App)
We've also heard from customers what authoring features they would like added to the Web Apps. When considering which functionality to add next, we've considered a variety of factors:
Below are some examples of features we've added based on customer feedback.
Note that this in addition to many new features we have been adding over the last couple of years. If you haven't checked out the Office Web Apps lately, you'll notice they already have new capabilities such as printing, charts, multiple worksheet support, ink display, and much more.
A major value proposition of the Office Web Apps is that they let you access your Office documents from nearly anywhere, on nearly any device.
The Office Web Apps have embraced HTML5. They run in virtually all modern browsers and do not require the user of plug-ins (e.g. ActiveX, Flash, Silverlight). This includes Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. We've also optimized the Web Apps to run on a variety of new form factors including tablets and smartphones.
The user interface of the Office Web Apps has been updated to work great on touch devices. Examples of changes include updating button spacing to be more finger-friendly, all-new touch selection capabilities, new UI controls for inserting tables or picking colors, dragging shapes with your fingers in PowerPoint, and support for gestures such as pinching and swiping. Look for a future post on the Office Web App's blog that will provide much more depth in this area. Below is an example:
(Pictured above -- User Experience with touch)
(Pictured above -- User experience with a mouse)
The initial version of the Office Web Apps allows users to view an Office document on nearly any phone with a browser. However the experience was very basic. With this latest release, we now provide a high-quality reading experience that take advantage of today's modern smartphones, including Android and iOS.
(Pictured above -- An excel spreadsheet on a mobile device)
In this section, we’ll discuss a few examples of new collaboration capabilities in the Office Web Apps. Each of these features is designed to help you share and collect information with others.
One of the greatest benefits of putting documents on the Web is that it makes it easier to share and collaborate. With the initial release of the Office Web Apps, we supported co-authoring with Excel and OneNote. We subsequently added co-authoring support to Word. With this update, we've added co-authoring support in PowerPoint as well. We are excited for the first time that all the Office Web Apps support simultaneous, multi-user, collaborative authoring!
While co-authoring is great, we've found many people want to give feedback to others on a document without directly 'editing' the document. It is now possible to do this via comments in documents and presentations. The comments allow for replies, are designed to be viewable in the document with less distraction, and have the ability to be 'marked done' once incorporated in the document.
(Pictured above -- A document with inline comments)
Ever wanted to collect data from a group of people directly into a spreadsheet? Now you can, easily, without them having to worry about where to enter the data because they are presented with a clean, simple, survey.
(Pictured above -- A survey created with Excel)
We're always looking for ways to squeeze more performance out of the browser and bring people the most efficient experience possible. Improvements have been made in all of the apps and in many places. Here are few examples: .
I hope this blog encourages you to go to skydrive.com and try this new release. If you do, we want to hear from you! Many of the new features we've added have been in direct response to the feedback you've given us. As you use the Office Web Apps Preview, please click on the smiley face on the upper right to tell us what you like, what you don't like, and what you would like to see next.
Be sure to stay tuned to the Office Web Apps blog for more on this release in the coming weeks.
Mike Morton Group Program Manager of the Office Web Applications
Am I the only one who has problem with editing word documents in the browser? (Originally the doc was created in Office 2010 in docx format)
Seriously, if you are having trouble one of the things you can do is to click the "smiley face" icon to send a smile/frown. That will also give you a chance to include a screen shot to show us what is going on with the document. We're very interested to get the feedback.
Check out Mike's entry on the Office Next blog talking about the new Office Web Apps and how to join
Of course I've already did it. BTW I'm falling in love with Office 2013. So really great job. ;)
I tried the new online Word app today. It's very swanky and I'm going to be using it more often.
Feature request: Make comments available from edit mode.
Currently I have to back out of my document then go back in to see comments after editing.
I too cannot figure out how to create a survey in Excel 2013 preview. Anyone know how to do it?
Still no data validation support for Excel, I see. :-(
Check out the new and improved Office Web Apps! This is the product my team at Microsoft has been working on
Thanks for the feature request! Making comments available in edit mode is something we are considering for the future.
When authoring this post we I found havinig one browser tab open to the 'view' mode with comments while having another browser tab open with the 'edit' mode worked reasonably well. However I certainly agree having the comments show up in edit mode would be best.
@VeganRyan - We're getting closer with the data validation support. In previous versions Excel Web App wouldn't even load files that contained data validation and now we do. We're still working on adding the ability to interact with the data validation though - stay tuned, we know it's an important feature.
@Dmitry, @John - The best way to try out Survey's right now is to head on over to the Office365 preview and try the Office Web Apps there ( www.microsoft.com/.../preview ). Forms are coming to the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive, but due to some last mile integration points, they won't light up there until next month.
@Dan Hey, great to hear you're working on it. Thank you!
Is the commenting feature coming to Excel? I can't find it from the web interface and comments created in the desktop app are still not displayed on the web app.
Die neuen Microsoft Office Web Apps testen
Thank goodness for finally bringing page layout editing.
Feature request: When I select a range of numerical cells in Excel could you display the total of those cells in the status bar like you do in Excel proper. Thanks!
I know there's a feedback link in the SkyDrive web apps themselves but no harm in putting it here too :)