Microsoft adds real-time collaboration to Office Web Apps

Microsoft has added new features to Office Web Apps to bring the service up to par with Google Docs found within Google Drive. Users will now be able to collaborate with each other on documents, using real-time co-authoring like what is found in Google's solution.

Now when editing a document on the Office Web Apps Page, you'll get a list of users who have the ability to edit, and you'll also see them edit in realtime. Microsoft shows them typing and where their cursor is found exactly. Like with a normal Office Web Apps document, a document that is co-authored will be saved in real-time.

Users don't have to be confined to the desktop when working together. Microsoft's Windows tablet or iPad and mobile device apps can be used to work together.

Office Web Apps have been available since 2010, giving users a free alternative to Office on the web. Now with collaboration, Office Web Apps opens users up to Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

"And if that teammate goes offline? He can continue to work in the document using the full power of the Office applications and when he gets back online, his changes will be synced back up for the team to see," Microsoft wrote on its blog. "So now, when working together with Office you get the collaborative power of the Web with the feature depth of the desktop applications on your PC, or Mac, for a no compromise collaboration experience."

With the slew of new updates, Microsoft has also added new formatting controls for users to polish documents. You can now find and replace words and phrases, apply styles to text, and format tables to meet your needs.

Essentially, Microsoft is bringing the web version of its software closer to its paid desktop version.

Microsoft says more improvements will be available down the road, including letting Android tablet users edit documents and not just view them.



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