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Microsoft finally takes on Google Docs with real-time editing in Office Web Apps

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Microsoft’s range of Office Web Apps are finally getting real-time editing today. Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are all being updated with the ability to support co-authoring similar to Google Docs'. While Office Web Apps have supported the editing and sharing of documents, they lacked the real-time element that’s essential for collaborative editing amongst groups of users. Microsoft promised the support back in June, and the improvements now place the company’s offerings in a position to compete with Google Docs fully.

Like Google Docs, co-authors will be shown in the document with a different colored cursor alongside a list of users currently editing a file. Changes will be automatically saved on the web, and even Office desktop-app users will be able to edit documents to sync up each time they're manually saved in an Office app. Microsoft is also introducing some new features for its Office Web Apps as part of the update today. Word Web App now supports find and replace, along with styles and formatting for tables and header / footer support. Excel Web App now supports drag and drop for cells and sheet reordering, alongside more support for different types of workbooks. PowerPoint Web App is also being updated with a new picture-crop tool.


Microsoft also plans to update Office 365 Home Premium in December. Subscribers will be able to share the service with four other Microsoft Accounts. Each account will be able to install Office on PCs, Macs, or mobile devices. Any installs will count towards the overall limit, but the extra accounts can also claim an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage. Microsoft is still promising to fully support Android tablets soon too. The company promised back in May that Android Office Web Apps users would be able to edit documents in Chrome shortly, and the company says it’s "still on track" to provide the functionality over the next several months. Microsoft’s Office Web App updates are available immediately at