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Microsoft’s Office web apps are finally getting the features they need: real-time editing, autosave, locate and replace, and a few others. But the biggest news is that, starting today, multiple people can edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents in real time in Microsoft Office Web Apps.
We all know that Microsoft Office is the most widely used office application suite in the world, but the strange thing is how long it took the company to bring real-time co-authoring to Office Web Apps. Google Docs, on the other hand, is still new to office applications and has been supporting real-time collaboration for some time. However, the software giant can finally compete on the same level with Google.
Real-time editing works much like Google Docs, the different people who collaborate on a document are marked with a colored cursor with a list of users who edit the document. Any changes will be automatically synced with the service, even if a user disconnects, that person can continue editing and the changes will be uploaded automatically when an internet connection is detected. Users running the desktop version of Office on PC or Mac can also take part in the real-time editing feature, but changes will only be merged when you click Save manually.
The other feature that I am excited about is the automatic save; It may be the only feature that prevented using Microsoft Office Web Apps, having to manually save or being interrupted by the message that ‘I needed to update the document’ was just a bit annoying.
In addition, in this new update, Microsoft introduces some additional features, such as “find and replace”, formatting and styles for headers, footers and tables for Word Web Apps. PowerPoint has a new image cropping tool and Excel has drag-and-drop support for reordering worksheets and cells and support for workbooks.
As promised, Microsoft also plans to release a new update in December for Office 365 Home Premium users. 365 customers will be able to share the service with four other accounts, allowing them to install the office suite on PCs, Macs, or Windows mobile devices and get 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage.
Finally, the software giant will include editing features for Android Office Web Apps for Chrome in the coming weeks. If you want to try the new features released today, log in to your SkyDrive account and create a new document.
Quick tip: The best experience with Office Web Apps is to use Internet Explorer. If you use Chrome, you will notice some delay when typing and pressing the Backspace key and you will not be able to cut and paste with the mouse. Also, if you use the Metro version of IE11, the application will look more like a desktop application.