Microsoft Office Web Apps Technical Preview program for consumers. This begins a limited access to lightweight versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the Web through Windows Live. The Preview is initially available in English and Japanese.

Microsoft also announced the formal names of the Web-based applications-Office Web Apps. The OWA includes Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App.

According to Michael Schultz, director of Marketing, Microsoft‘s “mission with the upcoming release of Microsoft Office 2010 is to deliver a great productivity experience, improving upon what customers depend upon today, and innovating on what they’ll expect tomorrow. Office Web Apps are a key part of our vision for Office 2010.”

Through Office Web Apps, people can access, share and work on Office documents from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection — making it easy to bring ideas to life at home, school or work.

Schultz explained that the Technical Preview program is designed to collect additional customer feedback prior to the broad release of the service. After this Technical Preview milestone, beta and the official launch of OWA is scheduled by next year.

There will only be a limited number of invitation-only participants that will receive access to the Word Web App, Excel Web App and PowerPoint Web App through Windows Live SkyDrive.

In the Technical Preview, Schultz clarified that this is not yet a complete product and people will only have the online ability to view, edit and create Excel spreadsheets, view and edit PowerPoint presentations, and view and share Word documents with others.

The Redmond company also explained that OWA is unique because,” there’s no need to learn anything new; these are the online extensions of the well-known desktop applications that customers can use where they want, when they want. The application interfaces will look instantly familiar, and documents maintain their fidelity, whether working in the cloud or in desktop applications.”

It will be aseamless integration between Office Web Apps and Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and later) lets people quickly and easily save documents to the Web directly from Office desktop applications.

By the first half of 2010, the full featured OWA will be available iin three ways. First, Windows Live customers will have access to Office Web Apps on Windows Live SkyDrive. Second, through Office 2010 volume licensing, OWA will be readily available. Third, businesses will also have access to Office Web Apps through Microsoft Online Services.

Beta version of Office Web Apps is now available here.






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