Office Live is the free (yes, free) version of Microsoft Office for the web. It is located at office.live.com. The only thing required to use it is a Windows Live account, which for most people means "Hotmail account".
This is what it looks like once logged in:
You see your current documents, plus the ability to create new ones on the right. You have the choice of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Before continuing, here’s a few questions answered up front:
- Does Office Live work in Firefox?
- Does Office Live work in Chrome?
- Are Word documents created with Office Live "true" DOCX files?
- What is OneNote?
It’s a note-taking user-collaboration product. You can read up more about the product here.
- Where are my documents, spreadsheets and other file stored from Office Live?
In your built-in SkyDrive account.
Things I like about Office Live
Something that web editors have been lacking pretty much forever are a good selection of fonts to use. Word Web App has some actual decent choices – and a lot of them compared to other document web editors.
Inserting ClipArt is stupidly easy
Click Insert then Clip Art:
Search by a term for what you want:
Pick a picture from the results:
..and click Insert at bottom right, insert into document.
Then click image, click Picture Tools on top for a quick resize:
Once done, click outside the image, and it’s a done deal:
Now I know what you’re thinking at this point.
"Rich, I’ve been able to do that in other document editors for years. This isn’t impressive."
It is when you consider it’s 100% in the browser and uses the same ribbon-style interface that Microsoft Office uses now. Office Live looks and acts as if it were an installed application.
Works easily in windowed/low-resolution scenarios
I truly like web apps that allow me to resize the browser to a small windowed state and still be usable. Office Live accomplishes this easily. There is no requirement that Office Live must be maximized in order to use it.
And in case you’re wondering, the bare minimum required to use Office Live is 1024×768.
The ribbon interface places all commands on the top. For netbook users this is very convenient because of the smaller resolution screens.
Things I don’t like about Office Live
"Open in Word" only works with Word
If you don’t have MS Word installed on your PC and you click the "Open in Word" icon, you get this:
I don’t like this because I don’t use Word locally, I use OpenOffice.
It’s understandable that Word means Word and no other software being that Office Live and Office are both Microsoft products – but it would have been nice if Office Live at least attempted to open the default document editor on the operating system used.
You have to jump through a few hoops to get to a print function
Yes, you can print direct out of Office Live, but it takes a few steps.
If you’re currently editing a document, click View and then Reading View:
If there are changes you made to the document, you’ll be prompted to save first:
When in reading view, THEN you get your print option:
All saved documents as far as I’m aware open in reading view first, to where you click Edit in Browser (see above screen shot for that button) to edit it. But as for printing, that function is only available from reading view.
What’s even more screwed up is that from Web App PowerPoint you can print without being in another view mode, but in Web App Word you have to be. That’s a bit strange.
An "enhanced" WordPad for the web?
For those of you using Windows 7, your first reaction is probably, "Hey, that’s WordPad, not Word!"
Is it? Sorta/kinda yes, sorta/kinda no.
Where Office Live blows away WordPad is the fact everything is share-able, plus it integrates seamlessly with all the other products in the Office Live suite. WordPad on the other hand is completely standalone. In addition, Office Live takes advantage of all the resources on the internet as well.
As far as the actual editor is concerned, yes it is WordPad-ish, but then again it is brand new. Google Docs sucked when it was new and it’s much better now. Office Live is basic, but it is free and it doesn’t require the Windows operating system in order to use it.
Excellent set of apps all around. You will genuinely like editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations within Office Live. It has the app-like feel that Google Docs doesn’t, and it’s very convenient you can access all your stuff from anywhere.
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