Microsoft Office Web Applications – The Google Apps Killer?

With the technical preview of Office 2010 several months ago, Microsoft announced a web-based companion to the suite, Office Web Applications, which some predict will be the “Google Apps Killer.” Last week, Microsoft released a partial preview of the online package to beta testers and invited guests. Web Apps features extensions of PowerPoint, Excel, and Word (and eventually OneNote), will be hosted in Windows Live SkyDrive and Microsoft SharePoint, and has received positive feedback thus far.

SkyDrive is a free, online storage space of 25GB available to any users of Windows Live (of which there are about 500 million), and will store Web Apps content created by Live users. SkyDrive is not intended for enterprise users, so businesses interested in Web Apps need SharePoint—storage that will soon be integrated with the MS Cloud, Azure—or Office volume licensing.

Like Google Apps, Web Apps doesn’t require any desktop applications—users without the desktop Office suite can still view content. However, as it stands, Web Apps seems best thought of as a supplement to the desktop platform. One of the biggest issues is that Web Apps’ Word only allows for document viewing, not editing. In addition, Web Apps doesn’t allow for web site building, and it only facilitates simple composition within PowerPoint and Excel. The official version of Web Apps will permit editing within Word, but some of the other editing inabilities will remain and only be available through the desktop version.

Since the preview’s release, reviews have been favorable. Given Microsoft’s aim to create seamless interaction between OS, browser, and mobile, it is notable that a preview of the SharePoint mobile integration was well received. Also, many testers were pleased to see Web Apps function capably outside of Internet Explorer. For users looking for light web-based CRM, perhaps the biggest boon is Web Apps’ similarity to its desktop counterpart. The bells and whistles aren’t all there, but there’s no learning curve for those already accustomed to Office Suite apps. We’ll have to wait for kinks in the test version to be fixed before judging whether Web Apps is indeed the Google Apps “killer,” but for now, it is a formidable opponent.

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  1. MichaelG says:

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  2. […] ways, this is Google returning the challenge Microsoft posed earlier this year when they announced Office 2010 would tout Web Apps, an online component allowing document sharing and real-time collaboration functionalities. They […]

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