Because I’m writing a report on Office 2010 for this quarter, I’ve been working with the beta of the Office Web Apps (the Technical Preview on Windows Live SkyDrive). At this point, the interesting factoid is that two of the apps still aren’t fully testable: Word and OneNote. You can display but not edit Word documents, while you can neither display nor edit OneNote documents. Here’s the error you receive:
Given that Office 2010 goes GA (general availability) mid-month, I’m surprised that Microsoft hasn’t released these features to the public beta. After all, when you release a solution that will be used by millions of users, you want to have a lot of users test it beforehand. When I quizzed Microsoft on why these features were missing in the public beta, a spokesperson told me, “there have been tens-of-thousands of users testing [them] for several months.” I would read that phrase as code for, “We’ve been testing them internally within Microsoft,” since Microsoft has 90,000 employees and typically uses early versions of its software. Even so, I’d still want a larger test universe–hundreds of thousands of testers would be better than tens of thousands of testers, especially for an initial release, and given that the release date is two weeks away.
The consumer-oriented Office Web Apps running on Windows Live will start rolling out on the same day (June 15) that Office 2010 becomes available. In fact, usage of the consumer-oriented Office Web Apps running on Windows Live will probably initially be higher than the enterprise-oriented Office Web Apps running on SharePoint 2010. All Windows Live users will be able to access the Office Web Apps by mid-July (if not sooner, depending on how Microsoft segments the online rollout), while enterprise users will have to wait for their company to install SharePoint 2010, which will take months or years, depending on the enterprise’s strategy and pocketbook.
So, on June 15, let’s hope the “Still to come…” screen on Windows Live goes away. It’s hard for both analysts and enterprises to come to a verdict on the Office Web Apps when they aren’t yet fully available.