Recently, when I shared my first impressions of the new Hotmail from Microsoft, I mentioned Office Live and described it as “[s]ort of like GoogleDocs for Microsoft Office documents.” Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written a good bit about GoogleDocs. (See, for example, Amy Cavender’s “Using Google Documents when others need paper” as well as “Getting Started with Google Docs in the Classroom” and “Revisiting Google Docs for Classroom Use” from Julie Meloni.)
In the discussion section of my “first impressions” Hotmail post, commenter mbevaldi rightly took issue with comparing Windows Live to GoogleDocs:
I was under the impression that Windows Live was only useful as cloud storage and sharing (in an upload-download kind of workflow) of documents that still had to be edited using a locally-installed copy of the relevant Office program.
Well, that was true when I wrote the post: you had to have Microsoft Office already installed on your computer to work with the documents. However, things have now changed.
From the Windows Blog we learn that the web apps version of Microsoft Office — which they’ve apparently been testing for some time now — is now open to everyone. With this new “Office Live” you can
- upload existing documents,
- create new documents from scratch,
- edit the documents online, in your browser,
- share the docs with others, and
- collaborate (in real time, if you like) with others in your documents.
In other words, what you’ve been able to do with GoogleDocs you can now do with Office Live, no desktop software required.
Of course, Office Live has only been widely available for a few days, so I don’t have any elaborate review (or instructions) to share. However, if you’re someone like me who has tried to get students and collagues to use GoogleDocs and experienced mixed results, this new offering from Microsoft raises an interesting set of questions:
- Will those confused by GoogleDocs (or just reluctant to learn yet another interface) be attracted to using Office Live?
- Will students now finally start saving documents in the cloud as well as on their local storage media, thus reducing the number of late papers due to document loss or corruption?
- Will online collaboration become more common, and will we see a reduction in documents endlessly emailed back and forth among collaborators?
What do you think?