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Microsoft wants to upstage Google Docs; adds new features to Office Web Apps

Office Web Apps

Today, Microsoft announced plans to add enhancements and new features to their online Office Web Apps. The service is a direct competitor to Google’s Docs and Microsoft aims to overpower the service with tight SkyDrive integration and a larger feature set inherited from their full desktop Office suite.

New features include real-time co-authoring of documents and the ability for users to run Office Web apps on Android tablets via mobile Chrome web browser support. The new lineup of features aren’t scheduled to be released until a year from now.

Microsoft’s director of Office 365 product management, Michael Atalla, recently said in an interview that, “Our goal for Office Web Apps is that people can rely on it to create polished Office documents from start to finish.”

The boys up in Redmond have been the kings of desktop productivity software for a long time, casting a shadow over competitors like Apple’s iWork desktop suite. Microsoft’s attempt to spread their kingdom to the browser with web implementations of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote are their mighty step.

The company’s Marketing Coordinator, Natalie Williams, stated that “this is just the beginning of what Microsoft has to offer in the web apps market.” And to “Tune in for new features and enhancements in the near future.

One of the latest features added to the Office Web App collection was Excel Surveys; the ability to create a multitude of response type questions and import the data directly into the popular spreadsheet app. Google Docs has provided a similar ability for a while now, known as “forms”; a tool which also allows users to create a questionnaire based document and then export the data into a “Google Spreadsheet”.

Excel Survey Example

I personally still use Microsoft’s desktop suite to type up articles, create slideshows, and layout invoices. What do you use when it’s time to get down to work – do you use a cloud suite or a desktop suite?

Sources: Microsoft Dynamics

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Reader comments

Microsoft wants to upstage Google Docs; adds new features to Office Web Apps

62 Comments

The disappointment in not being second, though you were in fact second. Lol. How meta of you.

Why perpetutate the stupidity of this "first" crap anyway? It was dumb when kids were doing it in the 90's, it's dumb today. There's nothing cool or original about it . You just make yourself look silly. Stop wasting everyone's time.

Desktop apps to answer your question. All of my computers have the latest office pro software installed. I do use the web software when o am away from my computers.

A year? Damnit these guys need to deliver to market faster than this. They're already years late with this as-is.

My jaw hit the floor when I read that. I thought these changes were ready to go because even now is late.

One year is too late, that is 5 years in Tech. Geez always responding to the market. Start working as one company, and get ahead of the curve. Your lunch is being eaten fast.

They need to start offering use of this stuff somehow to schools for free in a way that makes them want to use it.  I know that some of this functionality IS free, but I'm think more like Office365.  Elementary through high schools all seem to primarily use Macs, and they only use PC's begrudgingly when someone donates a huge set of new windows boxes.  Once on Mac, they gravitate to having the students use Google Docs, or Prezzy, or other free services.  In my opinion, MS should be doing what it takes to offer free use of this stuff to schools in a way that encourages them to use it - much better for students getting jobs and entering the real world, where they will find that MS Office is king....

While I agree that this would be beneficial, Microsoft gets a good chunk of revenue from schools licensing msoffice. I think MS could offer a more streamlined offering specifically to schools that would allow class based cloud storage and collaboration. This would greatly help both MS and the student/teachers. But at MS's sluggish rate that's a pipe dream 10+years down the road. For now I can't stress to people how much more useful office webapps are than gdocs. Now if only the mobile office suite on WP was up to par as well.

Microsoft does offer a free version of Office 365 for use by schools called Office 365 for Education. The A2 plan is free.

It should be mandatory to learn Office and Google docs etc. in schools. All three operating systems. We will have wiz kids..

For work? The funny part of that is access to google docs and office web apps (aka Skydrive) is blocked where I work and was at the last place I worked... so it is always desktop apps.

Ya'll missing the point here. Microsoft can't iterate Web Apps too much or they will compete directly with Office 365.

Wtf? Real-time co-authoring of documents has been in place for a long time now, even if solely working on the browser. I've been working on school documents with others via Skydrive web apps since last August. Did I misinterpret that part of the article?

They mean 'real-time', like Google docs does where you can see what other people are typing while you watch. OWA doesn't do that yet, it just locks the document while someone else is editing it (from my experience).

It only locks the section someone might be working on, like a particular paragraph - whatever they've touched. But I know what you mean. That would be fairly awesome... but one year? I guarantee even I will forget about it by then. Way, way too late.

Honestly its become kind of a 50/50 thing for me, even on computers with Office installed.  When dealing with email and such, I usually just open the documents straight into the browser, without even thinking of it much.  But if I'm composing a new document, I usually go with desktop version.  Except for One Note, where I mostly stick to the web interface for some reason.

For me it depends what type of file and what os I'm logged into office for windows, libre for Ubuntu and I use libre draw a lot, and OneNote in wp

I just graduated from law school having used the Office WebApps (particularly OneNote) almost exclusively - I only had to turn to OpenOffice when specialty formatting was required for drafting contracts. I turned a few of my fellow students on to the Office WebApps along the way.

They need to make it possible to use Macros on the web apps if they truly want to compete. Maybe not full macros, but allow some scripting.

I was using the free versions on SkyDrive, but I wanted the full power and signed up with Office365.  Nothing beats Office. The linking and skydrive storage is awesome.  It's not perfect, but it's the best service by far.  Google docs is fine for very simple things

Desktop. Excel Web App doesn't have all the functionality I need, neither does the Word Web App. But the web apps are pretty complete for word processing and churning out basic spreadsheets.

Sounds like Microsoft wants to go all thermonuclear on Google... :)
I've used the office suite from day one and now, when away from the office, I use the office web apps or the office on my L920... :)

Yeah, I use the web apps whenever I don't have access to the full Office Suite. If I had both options available to me, I'd use the full Office. :)

I use Office on desktop (offline) and the web apps. It's very convenient since I have SkyDrive.

of course I use the desktop suite, and frankly I am kind of annoyed that they are switching to a subscription service, ok you can still get the non subscription suites but not all of them, e.g. office academic is now only a subscrtion, although its a great deal for faculty and student
never used google docs and never plan to
 

Since I'm employed as a Business Analyst, it's strictly desktop for me when it comes to creating. I write VBA and rely on it to make dashboard solutions for my company. When I need to edit something a coworker has done, I'll occasionally use the web apps, but they're too basic for my needs. I was really disappointed in Win RT in that aspect, as the Surface RT would be the best thing running if it had full versions of Excel and Access. True, I could buy a Pro, but it's another $500 with no Office thrown in... But back to the original question, definitely desktop, web versions are too limited.