Great news for anyone looking for a free way to edit and share Microsoft Office documents like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - Microsoft is giving anyone with a free Windows Live account access to the Microsoft Office Web Apps and 25GB of free storage on SkyDrive.
These free Microsoft Office Web Apps give you many of the same basic features of the offline, and expensive, Office 2010 suite including the "Office Ribbon" interface that makes it simpler to find the tools and features you are looking for in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition to letting you create and save a local copy of the office document, the Microsoft Office Web Apps come with 25GB of free online storage.The Office Web Apps do not offer all the same features of their offline counterparts, but it has the features that most home users, like my father, need. Users who are already familiar with an old version of Office will appreciate that the browser editing works almost exactly like it does offline. Because these are basic versions of the Office tools, some users may find them easier to use.
Sharing Office files is also easy. You can download the file to your computer to save or share any way you want, or you can share the document right from within the Office Web Apps platform by entering an email address. You can even co-author documents, which makes editing the same file a breeze. If you want to see the SkyDrive files on your local computer without saving each one individually, you can use SkyDrive like a local hard drive with this guide.
Microsoft isn't the first company to offer free online document editing. Google Docs and Zoho both offer similar tools that are easy to use. Still, users who are accustomed to Microsoft Office may enjoy the familiar environment. If you need free offline editing you should check out Open Office, a 100% free office suite that works with Microsoft Office files. If you want access to Office 2010 at a discount and are a student check your campus bookstore or purchase Office 2007 for $59.95 from the Ultimate Steal and you will be able to upgrade to Office 2010 for free when it is released on June 15th.
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