Have you ever run into a situation where you need to have an urgent modification on your word documents or excel sheets but found your Microsoft Office just doesn’t work for you at that particular moment? Or the Microsoft Office trial version just expired and you are looking for some similar services at zero cost?
With the release of Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft have started to offer a free Cloud-based Office Web Apps which consists of four main applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. With Office Web Apps, you can now create, view, edit, share and collaborate on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents in the cloud, and all these can be done from virtually anywhere with a supported browser (yes, even a smartphone browser.) You do not have to install any plugins of software to enjoy the service; Office Web Apps only requires you to have a Windows Live ID–that’s all. Not only that, with Office Web Apps, you can have your precious 25GB of free storage space provided by SkyDrive filled up with your documents or notes, edit and share them on the fly, isn’t that sweet?
If you’re currently using Microsoft Office 2010 for your daily word processing work, you will find yourself instantly familiar with the interface of Office Web Apps – the famous Ribbon UI is there (the interface is so similar that I can get myself confused whether I am using the cloud service or the local version). Besides some reduced functionalities, Office Web Apps have all the basic and some important functions included in the cloud, allowing you to create and share documents in a professional way. Let’s have a deep look to the cloud-based Office Web Apps:
Microsoft Word Web App
If Microsoft Word is your daily word processing software, you will not find the Microsoft Word Web App a stranger. Although not every function is found in Microsoft Word in the Word Web App (you can’t really expect too much for a free cloud-service), the necessary features needed to produce professional looking documents are all there. In Word Web App, you can find three tabs with different functions – Home, Insert, and View. Check the screenshots below for more ideas on the Word Web App:
Home Tab in Microsoft Word Web App
Insert Tab in Microsoft Word Web App
View Tab in Microsoft Word Web App
Picture Tools in Microsoft Word Web App (Only appears if there is an image)
Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
Microsoft PowerPoint, being a famous and easy-to-use program for producing interactive and professional presentations, is also available in the free cloud service offered by Microsoft. Upon creating a new presentation slide, PowerPoint Web App offers 40 templates (and all the templates look really nice) for you to choose from–+1 for Microsoft. Similar to the Word Web App, it has three tabs with different functions, and unlike Word Web App which only allows some simple adjustments on the image, PowerPoint Web App actually offers quite a number of picture styles for the images attached to the presentation slides, allowing you to add some eye-cany to your presentation.
Home Tab in Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
Insert Tab in Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
View Tab in Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
40 PowerPoint templates offered in Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
Picture Tools in Microsoft PowerPoint Web App
Microsoft Excel Web App
Although there are no graph generating features in Excel Web App, it still comes in handy when there is an urgent need to modify some data in workbook/excel sheets. There are two tabs on the app: Home and Insert. The functions included in Excel Web App are adequate enough for creating/editing an account report or database sheet, which is pretty nice considering the service is offered to you for free.
Home Tab in Microsoft Excel Web App
Insert Tab in Microsoft Excel Web App
Microsoft OneNote Web App
Microsoft OneNote is a relatively new application in the Microsoft Office suite, which first appeared in Microsoft Office 2007. Think of it as a personal notebook – OneNote allows you to take notes with time stamp and categorize them in different sections. You can also add tags (important, contacts, movies to watch etc.) to different notes for easy management. Personally I would say OneNote is quite a good application for a personal digital diary.
Home Tab in Microsoft OneNote Web App
Insert Tab in Microsoft OneNote Web App
View Tab in Microsoft OneNote Web App
I like Microsoft Office Web Apps because they have a really great interface similar to Office 2010, and make full use of the free 25GB of SkyDrive storage. If you have Microsoft Silverlight installed in your computer, you can easily have all your documents uploaded to your SkyDrive via the drag-and-drop features offered by Microsoft. Office Web Apps also allows you to access the documents anywhere from any device–even a smartphone (I can easily access my documents on my Nokia X6, but not too much on the editing due to the limited memory). Though I would like to see some improvements in the Web App which includes:
- Picture styles feature in Word Web App.
- Open local files without prior upload.
- Google Chrome support (due to the lack of ActiveX, the feature ‘Open in Word’ etc. doesn’t work except in IE and Firefox.)
- Hopefully more functions in the future?
Really, the future of computing is all in the cloud – look at Office Web Apps, Google Docs, OnLive.com (cloud gaming service) and so much more is coming. Check out Mike’s take on the future in cloud computing, and if you’re looking for other word processing software, do check out our Top 5 Word Processors [2010 Edition].
To access Microsoft Office Web Apps, all you have to do is login to office.live.com (provided you have a valid Windows Live ID).
- Internet Connection (It’s a cloud service, so internet is a must.)
- Windows Live ID.
- Supported browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox recommended.)
- Microsoft Silverlight (For batch-uploading.)
- Microsoft Office (Optional.)
Hope you enjoy this free cloud-based Office Web App offered by Microsoft and are able to make full use of it at no cost!