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Microsoft

Microsoft Rushes Out Office Web Apps Preview 123

Posted by kdawson
from the no-hurry-at-all dept.
CWmike writes "Today Microsoft launched a limited beta test of its Office Web Apps, the company's first public unveiling of its rival for Google's Web applications. Dubbed a 'technical preview' by Microsoft to denote that it's by invitation only, Office Web Apps will be available on the company's Windows Live site via a special 'Documents' tab. 'Tens of thousands have been invited to participate in the Technical Preview,' said a spokeswoman in a reply to questions. An analyst with Directions on Microsoft is quoted: 'This is earlier than I expected. I thought we wouldn't see this until the SharePoint conference at the end of October. Maybe the recent Google moves had some bearing on Microsoft's timing.' The reference was to Google's announcement Tuesday that it will offer online services next year, including Google Web Apps, that are specially designed for US government agencies."
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Microsoft Rushes Out Office Web Apps Preview

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  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @09:33PM (#29461545) Journal

    I'm sure the annual rental fee will be so much cheaper (cough) than the $150 I spent to buy Office 97 (~$11.50 per year).

  • Home server +ssh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @09:53PM (#29461683) Homepage Journal

    I have my own self hosted 'web apps'. I own my data, i keep control of it.

    I would be wiling to bet if everyone got together and wrote some PHP based office suite that you could run on your own pc, or a basic web hosting service you pay for, it would give both google and Microsoft a run for its money.

  • by idiotwithastick (1036612) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @09:56PM (#29461701)
    Honestly, I haven't been incredibly impressed with Google Docs. The other day, a couple of friends and I tried to collaboratively edit a document, but each person would only think that one other person was editing the document, and the only way we could see each other's updates was to refresh the page. Furthermore, changes are only pushed out every 15 seconds from the Google server, making real-time collaboration difficult. If only Google Docs were more like Etherpad... [etherpad.com]
  • by Bluesman (104513) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @10:49PM (#29461987) Homepage

    If Microsoft can pull this off, it will be huge, but not for Word.

    I'm saying this as a hater of Microsoft Word, reluctant user of Excel, and recent convert to being a MS Access fan. (Yeah, I know it's not a real database, but if you know what you're doing, you can do some amazing things very quickly in Access, that anyone can use with no server or database know-how.)

    The Access frontend and VBA is one of the most powerful database tools I've ever used; if MS could link it to a backend that didn't suck (say...SQL Server) and host it for me, that would be better than having the local app.

    Another benefit to having Excel or Access online is that they're not based on presentation, and the calculation-intensive stuff is easily spread across a cluster of machines. If they can also make it as easy as it is now to generate forms and reports based on the data, while hosting database apps, I'd sign up in a heartbeat.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:00AM (#29462979) Journal

    Yeah, I've just noticed that I've got an invitation as well, so I had a look at the app. Sure enough, it's just HTML and JS. It does work nicely in Firefox and Chrome, too - I don't see any difference between that and IE version. In fact, it works noticeably faster in Firefox/Chrome than in IE8, which is readily seen when you try to highlight multiple cells by dragging. It's somewhat ironic, but I guess it gives strong incentive for IE team to seriously improve performance for the next release - as before this could be seen as propping Google agenda, while now there's a stake in it for Microsoft as well.

    It's pretty interesting to poke around the thing with Firebug. The styling seems pretty decent from good markup accessibility point of view - for example, the Ribbon isn't hacked via tables, but it is rather an list with nested items which is styled to look as it does via CSS. On the other hand, Excel sheets are proper HTML tables/cells.

    Sad part: it seems to do browser detection, since it won't enable "Edit" and "View" when I go there with Opera 10, nor it will work in Opera if I go there in Firefox and then copy the URL for a document opened for editing (linking directly to edit mode works in other browsers).

    In the linked channel9 video, they specifically speak of using Silverlight for Word docs, so perhaps that's the only one that's using it. Little bits of information about Web Apps that were posted on the Net previously simply mentioned "richer experience with Silverlight" without many details. It's also worth keeping in mind that this is a "technical preview" (which is effectively "alpha" in MS parlance - something that's not necessarily feature complete), so it may be missing this particular thing.

  • by 0ld_d0g (923931) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:06AM (#29462997)

    Part of the reason they use it is because in their estimation MS tools are better. I know, shocking right? Quick, lets insult the users and call them stupid ! That'll show them !!

  • by lbgator (1208974) <{james.olou} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday September 18, 2009 @07:32AM (#29464553)

    Google will likely provide a better collaborative product within a couple years

    I look for Google Wave to fill that void within 12 months.

  • Re:Home server +ssh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:02AM (#29465859) Homepage

    Actually, if google just sold a modular 'app appliance' based on their current clustering, that would be a huge win for business. It can be a 'web app' without being on the general internet. As your company grows, you just add boxes that automagically scale to deal with the growth. One central place to upgrade, configure, keep standard templates, etc. That would rock.

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