Work on Word docs at the same time as others using SkyDrive

Work on Word docs at the same time as others using SkyDrive

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In our last update, we used HTML5 to make SkyDrive faster for browsing and accessing your files from anywhere, on any browser. But we know that many of you want to do more than just store documents on SkyDrive - you also want to share and collaborate. Today, I’m thrilled to join the Office team in announcing that we’re improving collaboration by bringing co-authoring to the Word Web App, in addition to Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Word for Mac 2011. You’re already using SkyDrive to simultaneously edit your files on the web in Excel and OneNote, and now you can do this in Word too.

It’s no secret that we love Word around here. We use it to author all the specifications for our products, as well as all the blog posts on this blog. These are professional documents that we produce all the time, and millions of people have been using Word to express and communicate thoughts and ideas for more than three decades.

Word has a long history of innovation. I remember when the red squiggly line arrived, and I no longer had to manually spell check all the school papers I wrote. I also remember when Word introduced auto-correct and many common mistakes were corrected for me. (I still get corrected to this day!) I remember when Outlook started to use Word as its default editor, and all the power of Word arrived in my email, the place where I write the most. In short, I have grown up with Word, first on the Mac, and now on the PC, and I’m happy that we can still offer ways to help you be more productive.

In fact, I’ve been using Word 2010 with SkyDrive to collaborate on this blog post. I’ve been writing, while my colleague Harrison has been simultaneously updating my post with screen shots to demonstrate this new capability. As he and I saved what we were working on individually, SkyDrive merged everything together in one, clean doc.

We made a video of us creating this post – from initial brainstorming in OneNote to final output in Word.

Word communicates when collaborators are editing

In the Word Web App, a yellow notification area lets you know that I’ve started editing the doc.

A yellow notification lets you know when someone is editing

In Word 2010, the bottom status window shows everybody who is working on the document. Here, you can see that Harrison and I are hard at work.

The status windows shows who is working on the doc

In Word for Mac 2011, there’s a similar notification that shows everybody who is actively collaborating.

Word for Mac 2011 shows who is working on a document

Notifications show when specific sections are being edited

When you’re editing a document and someone else is making changes simultaneously, you get a notification. As I was writing my post, a notification let me know that Harrison was inserting a screen shot.

Notifications show simultaneous edits

So how does it all save?

To start, in an effort to prevent conflicts, Word will only let a single person edit a given section. When you’re ready to update the document on SkyDrive with your changes, and see the changes that your friends have made, all you have to do is save the document. After you save, the doc is refreshed, and you can see all of the changes highlighted in green.

After you save, you can see the changes highlighted in green

I’ve had the pleasure of using this feature over the past few weeks to author several blog posts, and I appreciate how this lets me work with multiple people on a document and keeps me updated on their changes.

Please visit The Office Web Apps Blog for the complete announcement and more details on co-authoring in Word Web App on SkyDrive.

- Omar Shahine, Group Program Manager, SkyDrive.com

12 Comments
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  • avatoin
    2 Posts

    This is cool. It would be nice if I didn't have to click save to see the updates or at least if I could get a highlight of the sections being updated so I at least have a better idea of what the other people are doing.

    Is there any indication when we can have "page view" in online Word, like on the offline word. Also more options to edit justification and line spacing. These are basic things that are important for my documents and I would like to have those options available so that I can use Office online more often.

    Also, when will i be able to open and edit files synced online through Mesh. I still have to download things before I can even preview them.

  • spc1972
    3 Posts

    On the subject of Office Web Apps in SkyDrive, can anyone explain why on several computers when I attempt to pin the SkyDrive web site to my Windows 7 taskbar that the icons under Tasks in the jump list for Word, Excel and PowerPoint don't use the expected icons.  Instead I get the standard windows unknown file type icon but the icons for My files, Documents, Photos all use the SkyDrive icon ok. I've tried emptying the IE cache, resetting IE completely but to no avail.  Is there a cache somewhere in %AppData% ?

  • gmphap1
    1 Posts

    This is very nice, great work! I'm waiting for the day, that we can use the entire Office Suite, across platforms, across browsers, and yet have the full tools set. Having 60% of the tool set gets really frustrating.

    Several issues we are having:

    . It appears the sharing is only by folder. In a "real world" you have your work organized by folders and within those folders you give permissions. You don't want to have a folder set for each set of groups/shares you want to do, very cumbersome.

    . How do you move a document to a folder on Skydrive? Doesn't seem like you can do this.

  • @wluser you are referring to flush left and flush right justified?

  • @damaster co-auth is not supported on WIndows Phone at this time. Just curious but why would you find that useful?

  • I_Mean
    24 Posts

    I had subfolders as in the zip form which used to work before the html5 upgrade and now I cannot open those subfolders. Also, the photos don't load quickly as they used to, sometimes they don't load completely at all. I am wondering if those are temporary.

  • SDreamer
    11 Posts

    What kills this from becoming anything awesome is the lack of integration into Windows itself. Sky Drive is great, but no one uses it, no one wants to log in and then uplaod files they already have on their hard drive, people want a seemless experience. Yeah, Live Mesh fixes this to a degree, but it should come with Windows already setup for the users. This can be really limiting as well with the 5GB limit, so I tihnk the best way to make this easier for users to use is make it like a separate hard drive that users can easily access. I know there are methods, but only those people who dare figure it out will enjoy the benefits.

    Next, no one knows what the heck Office Web Apps are if the shortcuts are not present on installs of Office, or just newly purchased laptops. I love Office Web apps for on the go, don't get me wrong, but it's hard to discover for average users.

  • Hi Omar. I didn't see any mention of Office Mobile for WP7 to be supporting this. I'm guessing this won't be available for the Word app in Windows Phone Mango coming this fall?

  • Fergus
    5 Posts

    Good to see all these new announcements on improvements to Windows Live functionality - along with recent UI and HotMail  changes it seems to all be coming together as an impressive online experience.

    Apologies if a stupid question but do you envisage an offline document editing functionality within these webapps at some point in the future (I know there is the full version of Word(!)) but thinking along the lines of working inside a browser at all times on tablet/mobile devices?

  • adacosta
    91 Posts

    In addition to wluser's comment, why can't we have print layout like Microsoft Word 2010? Google has this in its web word processor. I have it when I am just previewing the document, but I would like to have it when I am editing the document also in Word Web App.

  • wluser
    3 Posts

    @OmarShahine  Why can't we justify the text in Word Web App???

  • Why not add pdf viewing support in Skydrive/ Office Web Apps. Fuse Labs Docs.com supports pdf viewing..