Microsoft just released the Customer Preview of its Office Web Apps suite of web applications that include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
In a blog post, Microsoft shared the new features in the Customer Preview version of these apps claims to have 50 million active users accessing these apps every month.
Microsoft says that the Office Web Apps are developed with the following principles:
- "Anywhere Access - People should be able to access Office documents from any device with a Web browser. This means supporting standards (e.g. HTML) and ensuring compatibility across a wide range of devices.
- "Fidelity" with Office - Office documents should be displayed in the browser as the author intended. The Office Web Apps should preserve all edits and content, even when they don't support all of the features of Office on the desktop.
- Collaboration and Sharing to let people collaborate with anyone without having to worry about what software or device they are using," informs Microsoft.
Office Web Apps can be accessed in browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and on variety of operating systems and form factors including PCs, tablets, smartphones.
With the Office 2013 wave, Microsoft focused on four areas across the Office Web Apps suite: "improved document authoring; better touch support; co-authoring across all four apps (with simultaneous co-authoring enabled except in Excel Web App); and better performance," Microsoft explains.
Some of the features in the Cutomer Preview of Office Web Apps include:
- Word Web App: Better layout tools, allowing users to change the page size, orientation, margins, paragraph spacing, indentation, etc. Also more granular control over pictures and shapes. Word count calculation added
- PowerPoint Web App: Ability to author animations and transitions inside the app. More responsive drawing tool support and more granular control over pictures and shapes. Ability to display videos in PowerPoint Web App. Slideshows also now will show movies
- Excel Web App: Support for PivotTable editing, Query Tables and richer charts, among other data-analysis enhancements
- OneNote Web App: New "find" textbox added to navigation pane
Across the Office Web Apps, you will find performance improvement in speed in typing, selecting, formatting in larger documents. Right click/context-sensitive menus now supported in more places. Better copy/paste, improved undo, and the ability to print in Excel
On a sidenote, in addition, "there's also a new Office Web Apps Server that is part of SharePoint 2013."
To test the new Office Web Apps, users can either use this special link to gain access to the Customer Preview via SkyDrive or install the new Office 365 Home Premium Preview.
"Either way, you will get the same new Office Web Apps when you create or click on a Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote document."
Here are the details of the features:
- Improved Authoring - With this release you can now create more professional looking documents and we implemented many top customer requests.
- Touch support - While the Office Web Apps technically worked on touch devices, they were difficult to use without a mouse and keyboard. With the latest update, Microsoft worked to uphold 'Anywhere Access' promise by providing a great experience on the devices.
- Working Together - All of the Office Web Apps now support co-authoring. In fact, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote users can simultaneously co-author with the Office Web Apps and the Office desktop apps. Microsoft also added a newly designed commenting feature to Word and PowerPoint that makes it quick and easy to provide feedback.
- Performance - Faster applications result in more productive experiences.
- Layout tools in Word - You can now change the page size, orientation, margins, paragraph spacing, indentation, and much more. Microsoft also significantly updated the UI so these changes are now WYSIWIG while editing.
- Pictures and Drawing tools - You now have more control of pictures and shapes. You can apply 'Picture styles' to make your images standout in a document or presentation. PowerPoint has overhauled its support for drawing tools. You can now add, resize, format, rotate, duplicate, and style a wide variety of shapes.
- Animations and Transitions can easily be authored right from the PowerPoint Web App. All of the supported animations and transitions look great when viewing a PowerPoint deck with a web browser.
- Data Analysis in Excel - The Excel Web App now supports PivotTable editing, QueryTables, richer charts, new types of slicers, and much more.
- Customer feedback - Microsoft added a 'Give Feedback' command right in the 'File' menu in the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive. "Since our initial release in 2010 we have received over 65,000 pieces of feedback from customers," Microsoft said!
- Optimizing for the Web - Microsoft says, they focused on features that match the target Office Web Apps' design points of anywhere access, working together, and sharing. As an example, the dev team added 'comments', which is very useful for collaborating with other people.
- Word count in the Word Web App
- Find in OneNote - There is a now a find textbox on top of the navigation pane that makes it easy to search for a word in a page or a section.
- Displaying videos in PowerPoint - Your slideshows now will show movies, including all of the standard playing controls.
- Context menus throughout the applications - Right click is now supported in more places.
- Better copy/paste, improved undo, and the ability to print in Excel.
- Larger documents - Before this release, basic editing operations (e.g. typing, selection, formatting) would slow down as documents got larger. With this release, Microspft enhanced the performance to deliver a snappier experience regardless of the document size.
- Faster Spreadsheets - Many parts of the Excel experience are notably snappier than before.
- Drawing tools in PowerPoint - It is now much faster to work with shapes and drawing tools in PowerPoint.
Microsoft officials avoided to mention when the "Office 2013, the new Office servers and the updated Office 365 services that are part of "Wave 15" will be released to manufacturing and made generally available.
According to some reports the RTM looks to be in November 2012, with general availability in February 2013.
Here are some screenshots of new Office Web Apps: