Microsoft Overhauls Office Web Apps Suite

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced several improvements to its free, online edition of Office, Office Web Apps. It's also announced that, for the first time ever, editing tools will be available to users of the Android operating system.

Office Web Apps has been available since 2010. It includes online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, though it only offers each program's basic features. In contrast, Office 365 boasts complete online editions of the these programs. (Source:

The advantage of Office Web Apps is that you don't have to install any software but can simply access programs like Word, Excel, and OneNote through your favorite web browsers.

Any documents you create or edit are saved online, meaning you can access them from a PC or mobile device.

The tools are free to use if you sign up for Microsoft's online storage service SkyDrive (also free) but there's a limit of 2MB for individual Excel files and 50MB for Word, PowerPoint, and One Note files.

Better Internet Tech Allows Office Web Apps Changes

Microsoft is now adding new features to Office Web Apps, which it says it's able to do because of widespread improvements in browser technology and Internet connection speeds. (Source:

Although Microsoft hasn't revealed the full details, the new features will reportedly include a 'find and replace' tool in the Web Apps version of Word and a simplified tool for organizing the various documents you have stored online.

There will also be behind-the-scenes tweaks to make Office Web Apps programs quicker to load.

Editing Shared Documents Easier Than Before

The biggest change is the introduction of real-time co-authoring. At the moment, multiple people can access and edit document in Office Web Apps. However, you don't see any changes other people have made and saved until you refresh the document.

That can lead to confusion if two people are working on a document at the same time; you could work on editing a document and then find somebody else has changed it in the meantime.

The new feature changes that. If somebody else makes a change to a document that you have opened, you'll immediately see the changes. You'll also get a warning when somebody else opens the document, allowing you to coordinate changes.

Microsoft also announced that Office Web Apps will now be compatible with the mobile edition of Google's Chrome browser. This means that, for the first time, it will be available on Android tablets and smartphones.

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