Microsoft matches Google Docs with collaboration in Word Web App

By , Network World |  On-demand Software, google docs, Microsoft

Microsoft closed the gap between its Office Web Apps and Google Docs somewhat today by adding co-authoring to the free Word Web App, letting multiple users edit a document simultaneously in the Web browser.

Microsoft reluctantly brought its lucrative Office software to the cloud with last year's release of Office Web Apps, but has held back from offering all the collaboration functionality you get from either Google Docs or the more expansive client versions of Microsoft's software.

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Office Web Apps had allowed multiple users to edit Excel and OneNote documents simultaneously, but co-authoring of Word and PowerPoint documents required the client applications. Now Microsoft's word processor allows browser-based co-authoring, functionality Google already offered with Docs.

Microsoft designed its own co-authoring to let users see when others edit documents while avoiding people over-writing each other's edits.

"Most people don't want others to see their thoughts and edits in a polished document until they're ready," the Microsoft Office Web Apps team writes in a blog post. "At the same time, other contributors to the document want to review and digest changes being made before they react and respond instead of seeing others typing in the document where they're working.

"We designed co-authoring in the Word Web App on SkyDrive accordingly: When you're co-authoring, you always have a real time view into who is making changes and where these changes are occurring. As soon as you begin typing, the corresponding section of the document is locked and others are notified, placing you in control and freeing others from distraction. Contributors can hit 'save' at any time to see an updated view of all changes."

The co-authoring requires users to save documents on SkyDrive, Microsoft's consumer service for sharing files.

This may mean the browser-based co-authoring feature is off-limits for businesses, however, because business users of Office Web Apps within the larger Office 365 service use SharePoint Online rather than SkyDrive to store files. We're checking with Microsoft to see if that's the case.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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