After dismissing realtime co-editing feature as too difficult to implement, Microsoft has made a turn around and implemented it on their cloud based Word application. This reversal of stance comes after Microsoft has realized that one of the reasons why users are attracted towards web based office suite is the idea of co-editing. Zoho Office Suite, Google Docs and IBM LotusLive Symphony (in fact, IBM’s LotusLive Symphony offers a more granular level of control where you can restrict the co-editing to just a few sections or paragraphs and Zoho was the first to offer co-editing) have this capability for quite some time now.
In a blog post today, Microsoft Office Web Apps Team announced this feature through a blog post
Building on the collaboration features already available in Word 2010 and Word for Mac 2011, co-authoring in the Word Web App on SkyDrive helps you collaborate with others on polished content without having to leave your web browser. Just sign into SkyDrive and you’re ready to get started!
Our approach to co-authoring in the Word Web App on SkyDrive reflects our team’s deep understanding of how our customers prefer to collaborate and get things done, based on what you’ve told us and how we’ve observed the use of Office. To help us design co-authoring, we read a lot of your comments, and watched, asked, and listened to how customers said they wanted to work together when working on Office documents. We discovered that expectations change based on the type of document and style of collaboration in play.
It is the next logical evolution of Microsoft’s web apps as their competitors are already way ahead in terms of modern collaborative features. However, there are a few caveats here
- This is only available for those using Office Web Apps on SkyDrive and Hotmail. According to my understanding (disclaimer: didn’t talk to anyone from Microsoft as yet), Docs.com users and Office 365 users may not have this ability to co-author
- The changes are not available to co-authors in real time. It is only available after the person who is editing saves the document and there is a need to refresh for others to get it
I really like Microsoft’s play in the online Office Suite space. We need strong competition to get other vendors to innovate hard and come up with interesting features at a rapid pace. With Google, Zoho, Microsoft and IBM playing in this space targeting everyone from consumers to SMBs to large enterprises, we are going to see some exciting innovations completely changing the way we use these tools in our daily lives.
- Work on Word docs at the same time as others using SkyDrive (windowsteamblog.com)
- Microsoft adds co-authoring to web version of word (ZDNet)
- Office 365 : Everything You Need to Know (juanfbalcazar.wordpress.com)
- Office 365: Can Microsoft replace Microsoft? (go.theregister.com)