Getting started with Office Web Applications

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Step by Step preparing for Office Web Applications

Part of Office 2010 is the Office Web Applications (OWA), a browser based version of the main Office programs. In this article we’ll take you through the setup process for Office Web Applications.

Office Web Application or OWA are the online, lightweight versions of MS Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The main objective of OWA is to allow people to work with Office applications online i.e. from any place with just an internet connection and a web browser. With OWA you can create, edit, save and store files online. This is something similar to Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace. There are some notable differences however.

Microsoft has two ‘OWA’ products – Office Web Applications and Outlook Web Access.


Why Office Web Applications?

Office Web Applications will be a useful additional option for Microsoft Office users. You’ll be able to access and perhaps edit your documents in ways not possible today.

We suggest regular Microsoft Office users at least setup a OWA/Skydrive account and become familiar with the interface. Chances are you’ll want to use OWA at some stage and it’s better to be prepared.


How to Access Office Web Applications?

You need to install the latest MS Office 2010 before using OWA. You can download Office 2010 beta version freely from here. Part of the OWA system will look for the presence of Office 2010 on the local computer, without that software the specific Office Web Applications won’t show up with no warning.

Once you install Office 2010, open a web browser and type the following link http://www.skydrive.com/ to activate Office Web Apps. Windows Live SkyDrive is basically a file storage and sharing service that allows users to upload and save files from their local system to the web network. These files can then be accessed from anywhere using a web browser.

Office Web Applications - Windows Live Login image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

Here as shown in the above screenshot you need to have a Windows Live ID to access SkyDrive. If you already have a Windows Live ID then enter the username, password and login, or sign up for a new ID. Once you login you will be taken to the homepage of SkyDrive. As shown in the below screenshot you will have some folders by default like Public and My Documents. Each folder will have set of permissions like Public folder can be accessed by anyone even though they do not possess Windows ID to login whereas for My Documents you can grant access to limited people. The lock symbol for this folder indicates that it is currently not shared with anyone. The globe symbol for Public folder indicates that it is accessible to all.

Office Web Applications - Skydrive home page image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

Click on Public folder. Here as shown in the below screenshot under the New menu you have the option to create any of the four MS office files i.e. Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation, Word document or OneNote notebook. As this is still a beta version of OWA that Microsoft has released, you can only create Excel workbook and PowerPoint presentation although you can add and view other file types like Word document.

Office Web Applications - create new file image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

You even have option to Add files to the Public folder from your computer and Create new folder within the Public Folder. As you can see in the below screenshot a document by name ‘test doc’ has been uploaded to the Public folder. Under the ‘More’ menu you have option to download the Public folder as a zipped filed to your computer. You can even Delete an item or Share an update about any file with friends.

You cannot change permission of Public folder. Permission for individual files within a folder cannot be modified. Whatever permission is applicable for the folder same holds good for all the files within that particular folder as well. To share a folder with someone you can send email invitations in OWA.

Office Web Applications - more options image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com


How to Create a New Document?

Let us see how to create a new document in Office Web Apps. In the Skydrive homepage click on any of the folder i.e. ‘Public’ or ‘My Documents’.

Click on ‘My Documents’ folder as shown in the above screenshot. Note that you even have option to create a new folder within the My Documents folder. Click New | Microsoft Excel workbook.

Office Web Applications - new Excel file image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

Enter a name for the Excel file example: Test and click the ‘Create’ button. A preview of the file is also available. As shown in the below screenshot a excel workbook by name ‘Test’ is created. This workbook comprises all the features that are present usually in the MS Excel application for desktop. Just like you work on your desktop application you can perform similar actions on the browser application also.

Office Web Applications - open in Excel software image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

You have the option to open the file in the Excel application on your computer if you prefer to work offline. You can then save it back in the browser.

Once you finish working on the excel spreadsheet and wish to close it, you may not find any button indicating to close the file. Surprisingly there is no option provided in Excel Workbook to close it. You need to click on the navigation link to go back to your Document homepage after saving the file. However this problem is not present in PowerPoint and Word applications.

Office Web Applications - navigation link image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

After creating the file in My Documents folder if you click on the file name you just created then as shown in the screenshot below you will see a snapshot of technical details of the file like file size, file type, permission given for sharing, created date, etc. You can even add comments to the file.

Office Web Applications - view Excel file image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

There are options available to view, edit, download, delete and move the file to other folders. If you have more than one file in the folder then you can scroll from one to the next by clicking the blue arrows (see screenshot).

Under My Documents another PowerPoint presentation has been created and saved. When clicked on the edit button the file opens in PowerPoint Office Apps in the web browser as shown in the below screenshot.

Office Web Applications - Powerpoint interface image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com

This is the main difference between Office Live Workspace and Office Web Apps. In OWA to edit documents, respective applications are available online only whereas in OLW you need to open the file in your computer to make any changes and then save it to the browser.

As of now in the beta version of OWA if you want to edit any uploaded Word document then you can open it in the MS Word application on your computer, make changes and then save it in SkyDrive. For this open the Word document in View mode and click “Open in Word” option (see below screenshot) in OWA.

Office Web Applications - Word interface image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com


How to access OWA from Desktop MS Office applications?

You can directly share MS office files like Word document from your computer to OWA. But this can be done only from MS Office 2010. There is a feature available in Office 2010 applications to share files in SkyDrive.

Open MS Word 2010 and create a file. Then click on File | Share | Save to SkyDrive. Here first you will be prompted to login to your Windows Live account and then you can save the file in any of the folder available or create a new folder in SkyDrive. If you have not saved the document after creating it then you will also be prompted to save it.

Office Web Applications - Save to Skydrive image from Getting started with Office Web Applications at Office-Watch.com


Things change

Not only are Office Web Applications in beta form (Word and OneNote aren’t available at all as we type this) but they can change at any time.

Features can change or be repositioned simply by changing the software on the web server. It’s not like traditional Office software which only changes when you install new software.

As a result the installation and operation instructions could change at any time.


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