THE FUTURE OF OFFICE WEB APPLICATIONS

Previously:
First Look At Office Web Applications
The Future Of Microsoft Online Files

cloudcomputing Let’s see if we can put it all together. This is informed speculation about the way things might work for small businesses and law offices before long.

You sit at your office computer and open your Documents folder. You have a subfolder named Office Live Documents filled with everything that matters – documents, spreadsheets, OneNote notebooks, presentations, PDFs, whatever. You work and edit and organize and use Word/Excel/OneNote, exactly as you do right now.

You’re in a client’s office. You lean over her and log into your Skydrive account with your Windows Live ID. In the online Office Live Documents folder, you move through the same list of files and folders to pull up the document you were working on at the office. It opens in the client’s copy of Word and the two of you edit it together. When it’s saved, the edited version is saved back to your Skydrive folder.

You’re on the phone with a client. You create a folder on your computer in the Office Live Documents subfolder, put in the document you’re drafting, then right-click the folder and share it with the client and send an email link to it. The client opens the folder from where it’s been synced online, opens the file and makes his own editing changes. When he’s done, you open it from your Document folder to see the changes. (If it’s a spreadsheet, you can both work on it simultaneously online.) No drafts are emailed back and forth.

You’re out of town for the weekend. You pull out your notebook or netbook and open a file from Skydrive. It opens in Word in your Internet browser. The document formatting is identical and Word is much the same as on your office computer. (Your netbook doesn’t have Word installed on it.) Your changes are saved to your Skydrive folder.

When you sit down at the home computer, you open your Documents folder. The Office Live Documents folder on the home computer has the up-to-date versions of all the same files. You work on them and save them right there on your home computer. When you get to the office the next morning, the edited versions are there too.

That’s all focused on work files. That’s only the tip of the iceberg – this leads to an explosion of ways to share photos and videos, to interact with social networking sites, to send files to and from mobile devices, and more. There are a lot of details to be learned about how easy it is to set up and use these services, but I’m optimistic. This will be fun!