The Garage Series for Office 365: First look at new real-time co-authoring for Office Web Apps across Windows, iOS and Android

The second of our six-part show special on location from New Orleans where hosts Jeremy Chapman and Amanda Lefebvre take a pre-release, first look at upcoming Office experiences on the Web. We walk you through real-time co-authoring beyond pure text editing across Word, PowerPoint and at a cell level in Excel, as well as net new capabilities previously only available on the desktop. Watch too as we challenge a local New Orleans band, Remedy Krewe, to compose a blues song real-time as they work together both online and offline.

Jeremy: Last week we talked about touch and immersive experiences across screens of all sizes – from phones to our 82” Perceptive Pixel display. This week we have a special treat for the tech enthusiasts out there, as we get to take a sneak peek at what is coming over the next few months as we deliver more Office, more collaboration capabilities and more devices to the Office Web Apps experience.

Amanda: Yes, we first discussed some of the changes we are making in Office Web Apps over the next year and beyond in my blog May 7th this year when we unveiled how we plan to make Office as easy to use in the browser as on the desktop. It’s exciting because for today’s show, with the help of Dan Zarzar, one of our Office Web Apps leads in engineering, we were able to show pre-release code to bring you a true first look at some of the enhancements coming over the next few months.

Jeremy:  And Dan joined us on the show too to explain how we prioritize what we will be releasing given that there are so many capabilities to choose from among the most popular desktop capabilities. You showed things that we are making available first like Find & Replace and adding comments in Word as well as Freeze Panes and Autofill in Excel, which is pretty huge. What I personally like about this is the attention to things like document fidelity, so that when you co-author real-time from your device of choice the rich image of the document isn’t degraded and when you save from different devices, nothing is lost.

Amanda: Yes, our goal is really to continue to retain the user experience, we don’t think it should be any different just because you are on the Web, you’ll see too that we show that is not just about text co-authoring. Formatting and adding various design elements, the things that you are used to on in the desktop Office experience, those are the things that we want to make sure that we deliver to the Web and much more. The fact for example that in Excel users will be able to co-author at a cell level and output charts and analysis real-time goes beyond even typical desktop usage scenarios today.

Jeremy: Yes, as our viewers get to see the real-time co-authoring in action I think the show may even surprise some people who didn’t really know that we’ve had same time co-authoring since Office 2010. Real-time co-authoring is going to be a great addition allowing for more dynamic and fluid authoring that gets rid of the need to hit the save button in order to populate changes made by others.  It’s also great to see the merging of both the Web and desktop worlds with the ability to work offline too.

Amanda: That’s definitely something that we hope users find a useful addition, the ability to continue to work offline and have changes incorporated real-time the moment that you are back online. Pretty useful if you are in transit and are trying to be productive on the go.

Jeremy: Right, we see that in the show when the drummer from Remedy Krewe works on the chorus offline but is able to sync back up and collaborate on the song once he is back online again. Co-authoring aside though I liked what they did with the song and if you like their sound you can also check out more of Remedy Krewe on Facebook.

Amanda: I love that song “Ain’t no one trick pony”, it feels like a really good analogy for Office – and it’s good to see that they are using a variety of different devices from iOS to Windows to co-author.

Jeremy: Makes sense as you get the full power of Web Apps on Windows tablets and the iPad today. How are you planning to innovate and build Office for the Web and across more devices?

Amanda: Well, it’s clear that browsers have advanced to provide a better platform to build Office for the Web. You’ll also start to see more of our broad cross platform browser investments come to fruition pretty soon. For example, the latest advancements in the Chrome mobile browser mean that we can now enable editing from Android tablet.

It’s definitely about access to Office content and tools from almost any device with a browser for productivity everywhere – including collaboration and social experiences. As Dan pointed out, based on user feedback, we’ll keep prioritizing and delivering on features that you may know and love on the desktop. And if you just can’t wait and want to get a taste of real-time co-authoring in Office Web Apps right now and you have either SkyDrive or SharePoint Online, you can try for yourself real-time co-authoring in PowerPoint.

Jeremy: Great, thanks Amanda, looking forward to having you back on the show in the future to take a closer look as more and more of these new capabilities come to market. Next week we will take a look at the latest in compliance capabilities with eDiscovery and Data Loss Prevention across SharePoint and Exchange. Bye for now.

–Jeremy Chapman and Amanda Lefebvre

More resources

Garage Series Video Channel

Office Web Apps: More Office, more collaborative, more devices (blog post)

Office Web Apps Blog

Garage Series Season 1 Blog Archive

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter

About the Garage Series hosts

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. Amanda Lefebvre is the technical product marketing manager for Office Web Apps where she collaborates across the Office engineering and marketing teams to bring Web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote to market.