What are Microsoft Office Web Apps?

Office Web Apps are the online, lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. With Office Web Apps people can access, share and work on Office documents from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection — making it easy to bring ideas to life at home, school or work.

Office Web Apps are a key part of Microsofts’ vision for Office 2010.

Personally, I’m excited about the co-authoring capabilities in the Excel Web App, which allow people to work together in a spreadsheet, and access and display a PowerPoint slideshow — even if Office isn’t installed on the PC.

The publish capability is another innovation, allowing Office documents to be embedded in blogs, social networking sites, and other Web sites. – Michael Schultz, director of marketing, Microsoft Office Services at Microsoft.

Screenshot of the in browser Excel Web App:

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How do Office Web Apps work with Office 2010?

Schultz: The Office 2010 release is designed to deliver a great productivity experience across the PC, mobile phone and browser. More than 500 million customers are familiar with Microsoft Office at work, home and school. Office Web Apps work with Microsoft Office, so there’s no need to learn another program or service.

The great integration with Office gives people the ability to quickly and easily save and open documents from the Web, directly from Microsoft Office 2010. Seamless integration with Windows Live lets people access, edit and share with friends, family and co-workers anywhere.

Why are you offering Office Web Apps through Windows Live? What does this mean for Windows Live customers?

Schultz: More than 500 million people around the world use Windows Live, giving our customers a powerful hub to organize their lives. With Windows Live, people can store and share information such as photos, contacts, calendars and documents, all in one place on Windows Live SkyDrive. With the addition of Office Web Apps, people will soon be able to go to Windows Live to create, edit, share and collaborate on Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, OneNote digital notebooks and Excel spreadsheets — online, with high fidelity.

In addition to Windows Live, businesses will be able to get Office Web Apps through volume license agreements and via subscription offering through Microsoft Online Services.

Why are Office Web Apps essential for people on the go today?

Schultz: The latest statistics tell us two-thirds of the worldwide population is online at least once a month, and in the United States, 89 percent of the top 100 companies offer telecommuting. That means people are on the move and need to stay productive with access to their information, no matter where they are. Office Web Apps empower people to access information and edit and share documents in a familiar environment from practically anywhere, on virtually any device.

Why are Microsoft Office Web Apps unique?

Schultz: Half a billion people use Microsoft Office every day, so the world is incredibly familiar and comfortable with Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. With Office Web Apps, there’s no need to learn anything new; these are the online extensions of the well-known desktop applications that customers can use where they want, when they want. The application interfaces will look instantly familiar, and documents maintain their fidelity, whether working in the cloud or in desktop applications.

Consumers want choice and the ability to work across different devices, browsers and platforms during the day. The seamless integration between Office Web Apps and Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and later) lets people quickly and easily save documents to the Web directly from Office desktop applications. In addition, we’re making the Office Web Apps accessible across PCs and Macs, and available using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.

Beyond the consumer marketplace, businesses want enhanced functionality that reflects the way they do business. There’s a need for security, business compliance and reduced costs. With Office Web Apps, we don’t force customers to choose a certain type of implementation. We give customers the option to select the solution they need to meet specific business needs — whether in the cloud, on-premises or a combination of the two. The Office Web Apps have been designed to give businesses choice, flexibility and control.

When will the full feature set be broadly available?

Schultz: The full feature set for Office Web Apps will be available in the first half of 2010, and offered in three ways. First, Windows Live customers will have access to Office Web Apps on Windows Live SkyDrive. Second, Office Web Apps will be available to Office 2010 volume licensing business customers, hosted with Microsoft SharePoint Server on-premises. Today, these include more than 90 million Microsoft Office annuity customers. Third, businesses will also have access to Office Web Apps through Microsoft Online Services.

To sign up for the beta version of Office Web Apps, visit http://www.microsoft.com/Office2010.