Office Web Apps, the free, cloud-based viewing and editing suite that Microsoft promised would be available to everyone, has opened wide its doors. It’s a decent set of basic-plus editing tools, powered by SkyDrive’s generous 25GB of storage space.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Microsoft’s free editing tools, like Word, aren’t anything close to a replacement for its desktop suite, but it is an experience fairly comparable to Google Docs. They’ve even added in real-time collaborative editing, and, presumably, there’s greater formatting compatibility with Office documents you upload.
Head to office.live.com in your browser — any browser, it seems — and you’ll get a list of the documents you’ve uploaded to SkyDrive, with Bing-powered search and some basic filtering. Head there in a smartphone, and Microsoft promises you’ll be able to at least view your documents in most smartphone browsers. If you’re a Live Messenger user, there’s additional functionality in store for you, and Hotmail die-hards should get some extra neat features soon.
Office Web Apps are a free set of tools to use, and require a Live account. If you’re not in the US, UK, Canada or Ireland, you can access a no-country-restricted version of the Web Apps here, though not in any language but English at the moment.
Office is now live on SkyDrive! [The Windows Blog]