Office 2010 Web Apps For Dummies
The Office Web Apps are abridged online versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote applications that you operate through a Web browser. By going to Windows Live or to a SharePoint Web site, you can store Office Web App files and share them with colleagues.
What Are the Office Web Apps?
The "Office" portion of the name "Office Web Apps" comes from Microsoft's famous Office software. The Office Web Apps are online versions of four popular Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Respectively, the Office Web Apps are called Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote Web App.
If you're familiar with Office software, the Office Web Apps won't look entirely new to you. But the Office Web Apps don't offer nearly as many functions and features as their Office counterparts.
The "Web App" portion of the name "Office Web Apps" stands for Web application. A Web application is a software program that runs from a Web site on the Internet, not from a computer's hard disk.
Running the Office Web Apps through a Web Browser
The main difference between the Office Web Apps and the Microsoft Office software is that you run an Office Web App through a Web browser window. Here's how it works: Using your browser, you go to a Web site, start the Web application, open a file, and get to work. Files you work on are, like the Web application itself, stored on the Internet, not on your computer. All tasks are done through a Web browser.
Having your files stored on the Internet means that you can work on files wherever you can connect to the Internet. You don't have to be in your office or your home or even carry your laptop with you. If you can get online, you can get to work. Storing files on the Internet offers another big advantage: You can share and collaborate on files with others.
Sharing Files at Windows Live and SharePoint Web Sites
Because the files you work on with the Office Web Apps are stored online, not on your computer, many people can access and edit them. Although Web App file sharing isn't fully available worldwide (yet), many people can open the same file in an Office Web App and edit it, in some cases at the same time as others.
This ability to share files is the primary purpose of the Office Web Apps. In and of themselves, the Office Web Apps don't offer enough features and functions to be worthwhile using. But being able to use the Office Web Apps to share files with others makes them unique and valuable.
Windows Live is a collection of free online services and software products offered by Microsoft. One of these services, called SkyDrive, is for storing files online. After you sign in to Windows Live, you can go to SkyDrive, open an Office Web App, and use it to create and edit Word documents, Excel worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, or OneNote notebooks.
The other way to use the Office Web Apps is to do it by way of a SharePoint Web site. SharePoint is a Microsoft software product for storing and sharing files on a company network.
Running the Office Web Apps at Windows Live doesn't cost one red cent. You can sign up for free and try the Office Web Apps in a matter of minutes. To run the Office Web Apps from a SharePoint Web site, you must have permission from a network administrator.
Opening Files in Office 2010
Each Office Web App has a command for opening the file you're working on in an Office 2010 program. In Excel Web App, for example, you can click the Open In Excel button to open the Excel worksheet you're working in Excel Web App in Excel 2010. You can click the Open In button when you need a feature that Office 2010 software has but that an Office Web App doesn't have.
Being able to call on an Office 2010 program when an Office Web App falls short is very nice indeed. But to do it, Office 2010 — not Office 2007, Office 2003, or an earlier version of Office — must be installed on your computer.
Realistically, you need Office 2010 if you intend to use the Office Web Apps. You need to be able to click the Open In button to take advantage of features in Office 2010 software. The Office Web Apps are designed to be companion programs to Office 2010. Not that you can't use the Office Web Apps on their own without installing Office 2010 on your computer, you will soon be frustrated by the Office Web Apps unless your computing needs are modest.