Office Web Apps get collaborative

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Collaboration features now in Office Web Apps plus other changes

Microsoft has rolled out an update to Office Web Apps – the browser based version of Office available via Skydrive and Office 365. These changes are now available free from for all comers (‘free’ users and those with paid Office 365 subscriptions).


The headline change is live collaboration on documents. Until now you could have multiple people editing the same document but to see the changes as they happen you needed recent Office software sharing a document via Skydrive or Sharepoint.

Now you can login to Office Web Apps and view or edit a shared document at the same time as other people – whether they use Office Web Apps or recent Office software.

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In the above example, from Microsoft, you can see the flags where people are editing the document (the flag marks their cursor position). At top right is a pull-down list of the people currently working on the document.

Excel Web App already had worksheet collaboration but it’s now claimed to be faster. However real-time collaboration only works when all users are on Excel Web Apps.

PowerPoint and Word users of OWA or Office 2013 software get real-time collaboration.

All Office Web Apps now have automatic saving enabled. This is promoted as a ‘worry saver’ for users but is really a necessary part of real-time collaboration. The Apps need to save changes regularly in order to ‘push’ those changes out to other collaborators.

Other features have been added to the individual web apps as Microsoft gradually closes the gap between the browser based Office and Office software.


At last Find and Replace is available in Word Web App!

Headers, Footers and Page numbering, Table styles and Page Breaks are now available.


Sheet Protection is now supported, until now worksheets with this feature could not be opened in EWA.

Status bar calculations – those Average, Sum, Count values for selected cells – are now in the browser version of Excel.

Sheets can now be reordered in EWA – until now you had to open Excel software to do this simple task.

Drag and drop is available for cells.

In the ‘about damn time’ category comes the ability to rename the entire worksheet while the file is open in Excel Web App! Just click on the file name in the header to change. Microsoft’s Word developers for Web App and plus Office software – please note!

Microsoft has a sample worksheet you can open in Excel Web App to try the new features.


Also get file renaming capability, leaving Word Web App as the only one without this useful feature.

The main change here is picture cropping within slides.

Android Promises

Microsoft is promising that “we’re still on track to enable editing from Android tablets” so that will be interesting to see.

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