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.