According to early accounts, Microsoft's new Office 2010 Web Apps are definitely worth checking out. Here's a quick rundown of how you can put these free browser-based tools to work.
The Office 2010 Web Apps help create a seamless experience for you whether you are working at your desk, using your Windows-mobile smartphone at a coffeeshop, or toting your laptop from place to place. By saving your Office 2010 files to the Web, you can access and edit them using familiar tools. Here's an introductory look at some things you can do with Office 2010 Web Apps.
Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.
1: Add files to Office 2010 Web Apps
The process of adding files to your Office 2010 Web Apps is pretty simple. First, you need a (free) Windows Live account, and you need to be a registered user of one of the Office 2010 versions. You can then log in. When the first window appears, click Add Files to choose the files you want to upload to the Web space.
2: Work on Office files from anywhere
Once a file is in your Windows Live SkyDrive account, you can open it, edit it, enhance it, and share it easily. The tools are almost identical to those you use in your desktop version of Office 2010 (some applications have fewer tools than the full program offers), and the program features work in the same way. Hover the mouse over the file you want and click Edit In Browser to begin working with the file online.
3: Create a new fileNot only can you add and edit files you've created on a desktop system, but you can also create new files in the Web Apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. After you log in to your Windows Live SkyDrive account, click the icon of the file you want to create on the right side of the browser window. You will be prompted to name and save the file. The program opens, displaying a new document, and you can choose a template, add content, and save and share the file as you ordinarily would (Figure A).
You can add, edit, and enhance content in the Office 2010 Web Apps.
4: Use the Windows Live Sign-In Assistant
Windows Live offers a utility that signs you in automatically so that you don't have to stop and log in each time you want to work with your Office 2010 Web App files. You will be prompted to install the Sign-In Assistant the first time you open a file in the Office 2010 Web Apps. Just click the link provided to start a wizard that walks you through the process of downloading and installing the tool.
5: Give users permission to share your filesThe user permissions features in Windows Live SkyDrive lets you share your files with others. Create a folder to store the file by clicking New and choosing Folder. Add a name for the folder and click the Change link in the Share With selection (Figure B). Add the email addresses of those you want to share the file with or click Select From Your Contact List to display all your Windows Live contacts so that you can click the users you want to add. For each user, choose whether you want to assign the permissions that enable that person to add, edit, and delete files or simply view the files in the folder. Click Next to save your changes. The users you specified will be able to access the files you add to the folder you just created.
You can share your folder and files with others in Windows Live SkyDrive.
6: Work collaboratively onlineThe Office 2010 Web Apps, including Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Excel, enable you to work online with others in real time. When you have given a user the necessary permissions for the file, the Office Web App lets you know when others are working with you in the file. You can click the lower-right corner of the status bar to display the list of others working in the file (Figure C).
You can collaborative in real time in the Office 2010 Web Apps.
7: Download a file
You can move files from the online environment to your desktop and back. Hover the mouse over a file in the list in SkyDrive, click More, and then choose Download. You will be prompted to choose the folder where you want to store the file. While you're working in a file in one of the Office Web Apps, you can click the File tab and choose the first option (which in Excel, for example, is Open In Excel) to open the file in your desktop application. When you save and close the file, any changes are synchronized with the online version.
8: Grab a snapshot of a workbook
If you want to download only a portion of the file you're working on, you can click the File tab (in the Excel Web App) and choose Download A Snapshot. This downloads a copy of the workbook to your computer that includes only the values and the formatting so you can review the workbook as needed.
9: Get more room onscreen
Similar to the Ribbon controls in your desktop version of Office 2010, you can hide the Ribbon in the Office Web Apps by clicking the Minimize The Ribbon button on the far right side of the Ribbon. Return the Ribbon to normal display by clicking the Maximize The Ribbon button. In Word, you can also click the View tab and choose Reading View to hide the Ribbon and show the document in full-screen view. To return to editing the document, click Edit In Browser.
10: Share your thoughts
Because the Office Web Apps are new, your feedback is especially important for helping developers fine-tune the workings of the programs. You can send feedback to Microsoft about your experience with the Web Apps by clicking the File tab and clicking Give Feedback. A Web form is displayed so that you can send comments (with or without your e-mail address). Whether your experience has been good or bad so far, sharing your experience will help improve the service for all users — so don't hold back.