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Update to Microsoft's free Office Web Apps suite goes public

Update to Microsoft's free Office Web Apps suite goes public

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Microsoft’s updated suite of Office Web Apps are fresh out of preview and now available for all users of SkyDrive and Outlook.com. Those that took part in the preview got an early look at the updates in July, but access is just filtering down to the masses now. The improved apps add a Google Docs-style inline commenting system (pictured above), co-authoring in PowerPoint (the only app without the feature), and touch editing in the browser on both iPad and Windows 8 tablets, among other improvements.

A number of improvements across the board

The apps are said to be compatible with the final version of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8 and iOS 6, but Android support appears to be a mixed bag, working on some of our devices but not on others. Inside the apps themselves, there are a number of improvements including better layout tools in Word, animations and transitions in PowerPoint, and expanded data analysis tools in Excel — you can access formulas from a drop-down menu in the toolbar, for instance. Microsoft also responded to a number of user requests, adding a word count feature in Word and right-click contextual menus.

Even with the update there are still a number of missing features supported by rival product Google Docs, like the ability to edit footnotes. But if preserving the formatting of your Office files and integration with Microsoft’s offline apps are paramount, the updated Office Web Apps are definitely worth a look.

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