Office Web Apps is built into Microsoft's SkyDrive file hosting service. It provides SkyDrive users with access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote right in the web app. A click on a Word document opens it in an editor like interface on the website so that you can access and edit it right from there.
The feature is in this regard similar to what Google is making available on Google Docs, only that Microsoft's implementation looks like the interface of Microsoft Office which is excellent for users who use Office on the desktop as well. The online programs are available on the desktop and on Windows 8 tablets and iPads.
New features were announced yesterday on the Office 365 blog that improve Office Web Apps in several ways. One of the big changes is support for Android tablets. If you are using an Android tablet you can now access Office Web Apps provided that you use the Google Chrome browser on the device. This adds support for the last big tablet operating system to the service.
Users who make use of Android tablets can point the Chrome browser to https://skydrive.live.com/ to use the new functionality. A Microsoft Account is required to use it though, but that is the only prerequisite.
Support for Android tablets is not the only change though that Microsoft announced yesterday. Probably as important, if not more important, is a switch from same-time editing to real-time co-authoring. The best way to explain what is meant by that is to watch the following video that Microsoft has created. It highlights how the new feature works in the PowerPoint web app.
The core difference between real-time co-authoring and same-time co-authoring is that changes are now shown on the screens of all users directly. There is no need anymore to refresh the screen before changes become visible which improves co-editing significantly.
The company notes that real-time co-authoring is currently only available for the PowerPoint app but will come to other Office Web Apps in the coming months.
Microsoft's commitment to extending Office Web Apps has been made very clear in the announcement. It wants to bring "more of the" Office experience to Office Web Apps which is certainly great for Internet users who make use of the online service already, and new users who may use it in the future if it meets their requirements. (via Caschy)
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