Windows Live Sky Drive users in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland got a early taste of Microsoft’s new cloud based Office Web Apps late yesterday. Microsoft surprised everyone with a preview of the service, there was little or no word from Microsoft, about the surprise move either. The full version is slated for release next week, on June 15th in those same markets, but Microsoft has said it will be released in more countries later this year.
Microsoft hope Office Web Apps will be a driving force in the online document management market, which is completely dominated by Google and Google Docs. Both are a cloud based, browser accessible, document management services, that offer a sort of slimmed down version a full office suite. In this case Office Web Apps is an online version of Microsoft Office 2010. It has a online version of Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel. Along with online storage, users can edit, create and share documents all from inside a web browsers. With the upcoming release of Office 2010 to the public, Microsoft has plans to integrate both Office 2010 and Office Web Apps together. There will be features like automatic upload to Sky Drive for editing online, and ability to share all created documents with friends and co-workers that are also on Windows Live.
Office Web Apps has been in beta testing on Microsoft Connect for about 9 months, and originally it was planned that the Office Web Apps would be integrated with Hotmail. According to the Windows Team blog, those features will still be added into Hotmail, but at a later date. So want to check out the new Office Web Apps, you can head over to Office.live.com, and start creating or uploading Office documents will great ease. A Windows Live account is required to use the service. As I said, the preview was only released in a few countries, but anyone from anywhere can also try out the new preview, but it might not be available in your language. In most cases it will only be in English.
EDIT: Service works good, I rewrote this article using the Word Web App. A similar interface to the full Microsoft Office system. Has a lot of potential to compete with Google Docs.