Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Office Web Apps is here

with one comment

A quick post on Office Web Apps before I pop off on holiday for a week! You may have heard that Office Web Apps was released in Tech Preview form two days ago as announced in a post Office Web Apps Coming to Windows Live on the Office Web Apps blog. I’ve been taking a look and here are some early thoughts.

Firstly, you need to get accepted into the Tech Preview. Liveside have posted a workaround that seems to be getting most people in although I suspect the number of invites is finite so get in quick. The only thing I would add to what Liveside said is that, if you are not in the US, you should point your browser at http://skydrive.live.com/?mkt=en-us rather than just http://skydrive.live.com.

Upon getting in you’ll find the interface very familiar. I have been poking around at the Excel web app as opposed to Word or Powerpoint and so far it seems as though most of the basic functions are there. Missing features that I have discovered so far include:

  • CTRL+<down arrow> doesn’t move you to the bottom of a set of data like it does in the desktop flavour of Excel
  • There is no fill handle

One thing that I *really* like is the fact that there is no need to hit a ‘Save’ button, everything gets saved straightaway exactly as happens with OneNote 2007. I’ve long thought that the Save button is superfluous these days so its great to see it disappear.

The other great feature is that multiple people can edit a document simultaneously and any changes that one person makes appear instantly on the screens of the other editors. Give it a try yourself by simply opening the same document in two separate browser windows – it really is a fantastic feature.

These two simple changes are paradigm shifting. For years hitting the Save button and not being able to edit documents that other people are using have been staple annoyances in offices around the world, Office Web Apps (and indeed Office 2010) will change those activities forever.


If you want to make feature requests for Office Web Apps then head to https://mscuillume.smdisp.net/Collector/Survey.ashx?Name=aTechPreXL_Req_en&loginid=null. I have already submitted a couple of requests:

  1. I use CTRL+<down arrow> a lot in regular Excel to go to the end of set of data. It would be nice if it worked in Office Web Apps too.
  2. (This one is a bit geeky)
    Now that Excel spreadsheets are online it would be great if we could use a URL to address a subsection of a spreadsheet.
    For example, I have a (publicly available) document here: http://cid-550f681dad532637.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Misc/20090919Demo.Xlsx that has some data in cell range B2:C5.

    Wouldn’t it be great if I could access just that raw data by appending some extra parameters like this: http://cid-550f681dad532637.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Misc/20090919Demo.Xlsx?range=B2:C5&format=csv and it returns me back the data in CSV format that I can view in the browser (formats could be raw XML, RSS, JSON etc…).

    I do a lot of work that involves distributing data and I reckon this would be a great and simple way of doing exactly that in a way that is easily consumable by other applications.

  3. I’m a big believer in the collaborative power of the web and I loath the sending of office docs via email because it just creates multiple copies of a document – collaboration goes out of the window as soon as it goes into an email. Sure, you can provide Sharepoint and Windows Live as ways of preventing this but that won’t stop it from happening.Hence, it would be nice if Office Web Apps prevented us from sending documents via email. My suggestion is that you provide an option for a doc to be viewable and editable in the web app *only*. In other words, let us specify that the document cannot be downloaded and cannot be opened in Excel.


What are your first impressions of Office Web Apps?


clubhouse Tags: clubhouse, story, office web apps


Written by Jamiet

September 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I’m very impressed! Doesn’t feel like a webapp at all and everything is surprisingly polished and smooth. It’s better than Google Docs as well. Missing a few features, but it’ll probably get added later.


    September 20, 2009 at 12:48 am

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