I am continually confounded by the lack of knowledge and visibility customers have of the Microsoft Office Web Applications. I know I do my part every day to insure that all those I meet know the full story of what a great solution we have and just how versatile it is. The problem is, I am one guy.
I had the opportunity yesterday to attend an event one of our scale resellers was putting on around Office 365 and other Microsoft Online Services. There were many customers in attendance and the knowledge level around Microsoft varied substantially. One customer came up to me after my presentation and proceeded to say, and I paraphrase:
“we like the idea of Office 365, but we just cannot let go of the ability to edit documents and spreadsheets in the browser with Google Docs even though it is not perfect, and we use MACs and other browsers besides IE, so it is a no go!”
Let me caveat the question by saying that I had roughly 30 minutes to cover Office 365 and I did not go into detail on the Office Web Apps which are a central component of many of the plans you can purchase in Office 365. That said it did make the hairs on the back of my head stand up, kinda like that finger nails over chalkboard sound. YIKES!
The first thing I did was immediately open a document library in SharePoint Online on Internet Explorer 10 and click on an excel spreadsheet. I then opened another browser window in Firefox and did the same thing. Switching between the windows I showed how the spreadsheet formatting and charts rendered beautifully on both browsers. It took less than a minute! (you can do this on disparate PCs/Macs too, the experience is the same)
As you can see below there really is no difference between browsers. Let the customer choose what is best for them.
Internet Explorer 10:
Now the fun part, co-authoring! I them proceed to demonstrate that one could change values in one cell within IE and within seconds they would change in the other browser window. I pointed out that this could be another PC or Mac and that thee users could be completely different!
Below, I have attached a video of me using two PCs logged in as different users to the same SharePoint Online site. One PC is running Firefox, the other is running IE 10. I have the same spreadsheet open on each PC. Notice how when I change values in one cell on PC one the change is replicated to PC2 within a matter of seconds.
Now this is just the tip of the ce berg when it comes to the Office Web Apps. You can demonstrate these easily by choosing one of the following three options.
1.) Go to the Microsoft Office Web Apps home page. There are ready made documents ready to demonstrate.
2.) If you wish to show the Office Web Applications on SharePoint Online, leverage the Office 365 Demo Provisioning Assistant. You can check out BVA’s post on the subject here.
3.) Any Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or OneNote file uploaded to SkyDrive will open in the Office Web Applications. All that is required is a Live ID (like a Hotmail address). This will not allow you to demonstrate the SharePoint integration, but if all you need to demonstrate is the Web App itself, it is a great option.
There are MANY other reasons to consider the Office Web Apps over Google Apps and Docs. The fidelity of our experience is much better. Nothing is lost,; everything is retained. You should view a representative post about fidelity titled Why Microsoft: Office and Office Web Apps, high fidelity documents across desktop and cloud., by Karl de Borst to get further information. There are comparison documents rendered in both the Office Web Apps and in Google Docs. Very informative!
The next time you are asked about the Office Web Apps, give a two minute demo. It will make the day of whoever inquired.