Real-Time Co-Authoring Comes to Office Web Apps

Microsoft has added real-time co-authoring to Office Web Apps. The new functionality, announced Wednesday, matches the collaboration feature that was first offered in the competing Google Docs about three years ago.

The new capability allows authors to edit documents simultaneously in the cloud in the Word Web App, PowerPoint Web App or Excel Web App. A real-time presence feature allows users to see where co-authors are working at the same time, so as to avoid conflicts during editing, and changes to text and formatting by a user and by colleagues are shown immediately.

Office Web Apps are free, online alternatives to the on-premises Office suite, providing the core functionality of the key apps.

Other Updates

In its announcement Wednesday on the official Office 365 blog, technical product marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre pointed out that, if a teammate isn't available to work when everyone else is, he can make changes either online when possible, or with the Office applications on his computer. Saving the document will then sync the changes with the same file in the cloud, bringing him up to speed with the rest of the team.

In addition to real-time co-authoring, Microsoft has updated formatting controls in the online Word Web App. The new features include the ability to find and replace words, apply styles and formatting to tables, and insert headers/footers.

The Excel Web App now has the ability to drag and drop cells, reorder sheets, and display range of data like sum or count in the status bar. There's also support for more workbook types. Picture cropping has been added to the PowerPoint Web App, and all of the Office Web Apps now allow users to change the name of files within the editing window.

'Relevancy and Importance'

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said this additional co-authoring functionality helps the...

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