The prime choice for most users who wanted to manage documents online was up until recently Google Docs with its advanced set of features.
Microsoft launched the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive service yesterday which may put a serious dent into Google's leading role in the niche.
Office Web Apps on SkyDrive has been made available for users in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland with plans to add more countries to the list later this year.
It is possible to log into Office Web Apps from other locations in the world and use all of the features offered. The only downside currently is that it may not be presented in the local language but in English as those updates will be rolling out later this year.
A Windows Live account is required to use the service. Office Web Apps allow a logged in user to upload documents, edit documents and create new documents. Supported are Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote documents including the 2007 Office formats docx, xlsx and pptx.
The official homepage of the Office Web Apps service can be accessed by loading Office.live.com in the web browser of choice. Documents can be simply uploaded by using the available file uploader or by uploading them with third party software like the Windows Live SkyDrive Explorer.
The main Office Web Apps window displays recent documents, document editing activities of friends that have been added by the Windows Live user and options to create new Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote.
Hovering the mouse over a document displays links to edit it right in the web browser, share it or check the version history, properties and download it to the local computer system.
A click on edit in browser opens a new screen that looks similar to the Office 2010 interface. New documents are converted automatically by Office Web Apps so that they can be edited in the browser. Most text editing and manipulation controls from Office are also available online. Documents are saved automatically, it is however possible to download a copy, share the document with other users or save it under a different name online.
Office Web Apps on SkyDrive supports other features including work collaboration, mobile access by browsing to the same website and instant messaging.
Office 2010, the new version of Microsoft's document management software, offers Office Web Apps integration. It is for instance possible to send local documents to SkyDrive so that they can be edited from Office Web Apps.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.