Your office on the web

Many software companies are betting that the Internet is going to be an even bigger part of our lives than it is now.

There is a growing feeling that most software programs will one day live on an Internet server instead of on individual desktop computers.

2010-06-26_205712  Microsoft’s web-based Office apps.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

I’ve written about a number of online software services including the extensive Google online ecosystem. This includes calendaring, office applications, e-mail, online storage and a number of other bits and pieces.

Another contender in the same space is Microsoft Windows Live which offers a lot of the same features but what it lacked, until very recently, were tools to create and edit office documents.

I knew that they had planned an online version of their Office suite and it has finally arrived. The other day, when logging on to my Windows Live page to check my files stored on SkyDrive, I noticed a new Office link.

Sure enough, clicking on it brought up a page with a listing of recently accessed files in my SkyDrive online storage, and a row of icons to click for creating new Office documents including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The web apps look pretty much like stripped-down versions of the desktop applications, meaning that most users are unlikely to have any problems in figuring out how to use them.

Word, for example, opens with the command ribbon across the top of the page. Commands are grouped into a number of tabs and the Home tab, which shows by default, gives you access to commonly-used document formatting commands.

There is also a File tab which gives you access to options for saving the document or sharing it in such a way that people you nominate can access, and even edit it.

The web apps should have enough built-in functionality for most purposes, but you always have the option of editing the file in the desktop version of the software.

My first impression of the online Office apps is that they seem pretty capable and they do have the benefit that they preserve the formatting of your documents unlike Google Docs, which can mess up your intricate formatting.

In fact, the online Office apps are fine, but there is an external factor which will determine how useful they would be to you. The quality and speed of your Internet connection will have a great bearing on whether your experience is positive or negative.

In the early hours of the morning, when there were few other people awake in this part of the world, the apps worked well enough over my 384 kbps connection, to make them viable.

Later in the day, the story was rather different when more users were contending for the same measly trickle of bandwidth, and the apps felt much slower.

Your experience may vary, depending on your Internet connection, but I’d say that the online Office apps are well worth a look.

The service is free, as are the other Windows Live bits and pieces, and you can sign up by going to Clearly, Microsoft is hoping that most users will still buy the desktop versions of the programs and use the online ones for quick edits, or when they are not at their main computers.



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