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Did you hear about Microsoft Office Web Apps?

Microsoft today announced the start of the Microsoft Office Web Apps Technical Preview program for consumers. Beginning today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to lightweight versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the Web through Windows Live. The Technical Preview is available in English and Japanese, with additional languages to be added later this fall.

Microsoft is also announcing the formal names for the Web-based applications. Together, the applications are called Office Web Apps. Individually, they include Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App.

PressPass: What is the purpose of the Office Web Apps Technical Preview program, and what can we expect at this point?

Schultz: The early Technical Preview program is designed to collect additional customer feedback prior to the broad release of the service. After this Technical Preview milestone, which is focused on consumers, we’ll continue to update the Office Web Apps, leading up to the broadly available beta and the official launch next year, and frequently update the service based on new user feedback after that.

Starting today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to the Word Web App, Excel Web App and PowerPoint Web App through Windows Live SkyDrive. These Office Web Apps are part of the Office Technical Preview program, which means they aren’t feature-complete yet. The OneNote Web App and additional Office Web App features, including further integration with Microsoft Office 2010, will be available at a later date.

The publish capability is another innovation, allowing Office documents to be embedded in blogs, social networking sites, and other Web sites. This the first in a series of updates you’ll see from Microsoft as we approach the broad beta timeframe for Office Web Apps, so stay tuned!

PressPass: How do Office Web Apps work with Office 2010?

Schultz: The Office 2010 release is designed to deliver a great productivity experience across the PC, mobile phone and browser. More than 500 million customers are familiar with Microsoft Office at work, home and school. Office Web Apps work with Microsoft Office, so there’s no need to learn another program or service.

The great integration with Office gives people the ability to quickly and easily save and open documents from the Web, directly from Microsoft Office 2010. Seamless integration with Windows Live lets people access, edit and share with friends, family and co-workers anywhere.

PressPass: Why are you offering Office Web Apps through Windows Live? What does this mean for Windows Live customers?

Schultz: More than 500 million people around the world use Windows Live, giving our customers a powerful hub to organize their lives. With Windows Live, people can store and share information such as photos, contacts, calendars and documents, all in one place on Windows Live SkyDrive. With the addition of Office Web Apps, people will soon be able to go to Windows Live to create, edit, share and collaborate on Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, OneNote digital notebooks and Excel spreadsheets — online, with high fidelity.

In addition to Windows Live, businesses will be able to get Office Web Apps through volume license agreements and via subscription offering through Microsoft Online Services.

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