Office Web Apps update enables real-time collaboration, rivals Google Docs

11 August 2014

Businesses are always looking for ways to make employee and client collaboration as easy as possible and modern technology has provided a wealth of resources in this endless search for productivity enhancement. With the advent of cloud computing and unified communications, companies have been able to bring stakeholders closer together, even if they are spread across a wide geographic range.

One of the tech enterprises at the forefront of this movement is Microsoft. The software developer has been proactively improving its various business-grade products in the last year, as it looks to continue its domination of the corporate market. During the last several months, Microsoft has launched improvements for SharePoint, Lync and other products that have allowed users to easily integrate the various tools. However, the firm has not rested on its laurels, as it recently took another step to enhance collaboration in the workplace.

According to Computerworld, Microsoft recently announced that it updated its Office Web Apps tools to enable real-time editing. Now, users of the online Office suite will be able to simultaneously change and adapt documents that are immediately updated, a counter to Google Doc's similar capability.

In the past, multiple users could access the same files, but had to save their changes before another individual could see the update. This move is especially beneficial for corporate users because Office Web Apps is able to connect with SharePoint and other collaborative storage tools from Microsoft. SharePoint training has been in high demand among IT professionals in recent years because more companies across a wide array of industries are adopting the software. In fact, a number of international firms that are required to manage a significant amount of data rely on SharePoint, including Toyota and United Airlines. With such easy interoperability between SharePoint and Office Webs Apps, more enterprises may make the switch to these programs.

Agile cost model
Also, the web-based software group is much cheaper than Google Apps for Businesses, which includes Google Docs. That program costs $50 per user per year. However, Microsoft offers Office 365 plans, which includes Office Web Apps subscription, on a per user per month basis. This allows businesses to scale their services at the end of each month rather than paying an annual subscription for an employee who may leave the company for any reason.

Computerworld noted that there are two Office 365 plans. One is tailored to small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, priced at $5 per month per user. The other is for larger enterprises and features an $8 per user per month rate.

New era for Office tools
TechCrunch speculated that the latest move by Microsoft indicates the company is dedicated to making Office 365 and Office Web Apps primary enterprise-grade offerings. In fact, the source noted that both programs have been under-used despite the fact they both include more features than Google's various products.

However, with the real-time editing functionality and the other 100 updates to the online Office suite made over recent years, Microsoft is choosing to promote the web-based Office tools, according to the source. It's a move that fits perfectly with the company's approach to integrate all of its corporate-grade software for the cloud and other web-enabled applications. This forward-thinking approach is why so many companies use Microsoft software.

With the right Microsoft certification courses, IT professionals can obtain the skills they need to embrace the software company's new approach to enterprise development. Such classes give tech workers the ability to configure and manage Office, SharePoint and cloud infrastructures that make it easy for employees to collaborate in real-time.

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