It’s been a pretty wild last 8 months since we launched the Office Web Apps Technical Preview
on SkyDrive. We’ve had so much demand for the technical preview that we had to expand its availability
, and we’ve seen a lot of excitement about the integration of our web apps with the Office 2010 Beta
. And as Chris Jones mentioned previously
, we’ve also had several thousand people checking out the cool new features we’ve built since then.
Those of you who were able to get in to the technical preview early have enjoyed the ability to view Word , Excel , and PowerPoint files, and to edit Excel and PowerPoint files, right from the browser – no software installation required
Although the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive are currently just a technical preview (lacking some key features like editing in Word), we’ve heard many of our early adopters echo what we've been thinking: it’s hard to go back to the old way of getting things done. In fact, 90% of Office 2010 beta users who've tried the Web Apps say it is easier to access and edit documents from anywhere than before.
What’s wrong with the status quo?
We had several key advantages as we brought the Office Web Apps to SkyDrive. First, my dashing good looks
. Second, we've built on over 20 years of Microsoft experience in helping users get more done with their PCs – the very first version of Microsoft Office was released in 1990, and programs like Word and Excel date back even further. Third, we’ve spoken with many of you about how you use existing online services (like Adobe, Google, and Zoho) to better understand what works and what doesn’t.
You told us that you wished these services respected the formatting of the documents you already have, that they lack key features that are important to you, and that trying to work on the same document with both Office and these services is just too hard and unreliable.
You also told us that these services force you to learn a completely new way of working with your files when all you really wanted was a service that improves the way you already work. Every feature we’ve built was created with that in mind.
Making your life easier, one file at a time
If your workflow is anything like mine was before I had the Office Web Apps, your inbox probably contains at least one document you sent to yourself in email, because it was the easiest way to get the document from the computer you were working on to the one where you actually needed it. You might also have documents haphazardly scattered across several flash drives or multiple versions of the same file peppering the assorted folders of your hard drive. It’s like a kid’s playroom: the toys are all fun, but they’re scattered all over the floor and you can never find the one you want.
One of our goals in integrating Office 2010 with Windows Live SkyDrive
was to solve this playroom problem, so you get your files: where you need them, when you need them
. Now that I have an easy way to save files directly to SkyDrive from Office, I'll never again need to worry about having the latest version of my “Plan to Take Over the World” when I need to reference it at an Internet café in an undisclosed location.
These days, I have only one copy of each of my most important files: the one on SkyDrive. When I need to take a quick look at my grand plan, and even make a few changes, I can view and edit it right in my web browser. When I need to make some heavy-duty revisions, I can take advantage of the full power of Office 2010 by opening it in PowerPoint. No matter where I go, as long as I have an Internet connection, I have my latest files.
How to win friends and influence people (with your documents)
As any school-aged kid (or their beleaguered parents) will tell you, the playroom problem only gets worse when you find out that you have to share. And when it comes to documents, we find that people share quite often—350 million Office documents
are sent in Hotmail
messages each month.
When I share a document, sometimes I expect people to simply read over the file, other times I want them to edit the file and reply with their changes. Doing this over email is possible, but the more people you need to contribute, the more challenging it becomes to keep all the versions straight. Inevitably, two or more people change different versions of the document in completely different ways, and you get to spend a depressing evening combining all the changes and contemplating changing careers to become, say, a lumberjack (we love lumberjacks!).
With Office 2010, Office Web Apps, and SkyDrive, I no longer have nightmares about having to manually recombine documents: I know everyone can safely and securely update the same version of the file, conveniently stored in my SkyDrive. Plus, I know that everyone who got my document can read it in their web browser, even if they're traveling or don’t have access to a computer with the latest version of Office installed.
Working the way you do
People have been working with Office documents for decades, and in that time they’ve come up with their own strategies for getting things done. We believe you shouldn’t have to throw your strategies out the window just to use a shiny new service. We’ve spent a lot of time making sure SkyDrive makes the things you already do today even better. We know that the primary way people collaborate on documents is via email, and we’ve thought a lot about how to make that experience better and more fluid. Plus, with the powerful integration of SkyDrive into Office 2010, we worked hard to ensure that you can work on your SkyDrive documents just as if they were on your hard disk.
Most importantly, no matter how you choose to work with your documents, you know your files won’t lose their formatting as you go from Office to the Web Apps to email and back. After all, I couldn’t have my nefarious plans foiled by a flow chart that fails to show up, could I?
Want to take over the world like I do? Then check out the Office Web Apps technical preview
! What are you waiting for? And… stay tuned for more!
Principal Lead Program Manager
Windows Live SkyDrive
P.S. I created this blog post entirely on SkyDrive with Office 2010 – including all editing and reviewing (to make sure I didn’t spill the beans on the…  hey… you almost got me there!).