September 21st, 2009


Office 2010 in a bit more depth

It's hard to make my mind up about the Office Web apps. They're a long way behind Google Docs and Zoho and Microsoft's own view of what Web apps should be at this stage; Word Web is just a viewer, OneNote Web isn't there yet and only Excel Web has the promised co-authoring - which I found really confusing when I tried it with another journalist without a back-channel (it's crazy that there's no 'IM your co-author' button because you can just overwrite each other). It's a different kind of frustrating from Google Docs; the last time I used that in anger, boy was I angry - we both wrote a paragraph and it asked us which one we wanted to delete. Wave-style character-by-character collaboration is going to be just as weird; totally ADD, but with labels for who-done-what. OneNote 2010 has the who-did-what labels, which I wish I could turn off (I expect I can, I left them on for screen grabs); I wonder what proportion of 'shared' OneNote notebooks are shared with the author's alter ego on another PC? (For that matter, I wonder when I get a OneNote client for Windows Mobile as good as the one for iPhone?)

But just as I think 'oh, Microsoft has over-reached massively, trying to develop Web apps and SharePoint apps and desktop apps all at the same time' and decide to go back to shouting at the Office team about the Protected View bugs or the way Offline Files with Win 7 and Office 2010 doesn't let me *save* any of the files offline (and I don't blame Win 7 for that), I click on something in PowerPoint Web and discover I can create SmartArt diagrams. Perfect for designing the architecture of our new Web site in a lovely clear diagram. And Excel has a huge set of functions in the Web app. And it's very like Office as an experience and an interface.

I'm going to take a while to make my mind up. I was saying to ianmcdonald that I couldn't give up Word because of AutoCorrect but it's also the keyboard shortcuts and a dozen other little things. If they're not in the Web version - if they're too hard to do in the browser, which I suspect they will be - will I still want to use Word Web in the random emergencies when I don't have a PC with Word on to hand?

For a more hands-on, less fluffy look at the Office Web apps, my first look is over at TechRadar.