The long-awaited Office Web apps have now gone live and are available to people resident in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Ireland. And the best thing about this office suite in the cloud is that it’s all free.
We’ve known since last year that Microsoft was prepping to release a free online edition of its Office suite of applications. And this week has seen it finally arrive, although it’s currently limited to selected countries only.
Most Web browsers are supported, although Google Chrome seems to be missing from the list. And Office Web Apps is available and designed for Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux-based machines.
All that’s needed to access Office Web Apps is a Windows Live ID. With that in hand, just head for office.live.com to be able to use online cloud-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. All of which are delivered via SkyDrive, with each user assigned 25GB of storage space for files.
Office Web Apps enable you to both view and create files. You can upload and edit a file created offline, or can create a brand new file. Co-authoring Excel or OneNote documents is now made easier, with multiple people able to work on a document at the same time.
The same domain can also be visited on a smartphone meaning Word and PowerPoint documents can now be viewed on mobile devices with no need for dedicated software.
Microsoft Office Web Apps is designed to accompany rather than replace the full desktop Office experience. It’s clear that Microsoft has somewhat limited the usability of Office Web Apps in order to prevent cannibalization of the full (and moneymaking) Office 2010.
Those people who are happy using Google Docs and the other browser-based office app suites probably won’t be swayed by Microsoft’s effort. But for everyone else, it’s a good addition to the lineup. And it’s free, so there’s really no need to complain if you don’t like the product.