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Web-based Office misses August appointment

Tests promised "soon"

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Microsoft has promised the planned web version of its Office applications will be available for testing "soon," after missing its August deadline.

A company spokesperson told The Reg Friday: "At WPC, we said the Office Web applications technical preview would tentatively be available in the August timeframe. While they will not be available by the end of August, we are still planning to release them soon."

The Reg was at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) last month, and we don't recall the words "tentative" or "timeframe" being used in relation to the planned, limited technical preview.

Microsoft was unable to give a reason for why the technical preview has been delayed.

It was notable at WPC, Microsoft did not release the technical preview at the same time as it released technical previews for companions Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

Microsoft talked briefly about Office Web applications at the show - a move that suggested much work remained on features. Much of the focus was on the full Office 2010.

We learned that Office Web applications would be offered in three ways: for free through Windows Live, on a paid basis on premises for Office annuity customers, and via Microsoft Online Services.

Microsoft also demonstrated the ability for different users to author Excel and PowerPoint documents simultaneously and for the same documents to be displayed on a PC, mobile phone, and in the browser while retaining the same formatting.

Documents will be able to run the same in different browsers and view documents via a link in an email. Also, it was promised you'll be able to view and scroll through Office Web applications on Apple's iPhone.

It's the latest setback for the highly anticipated Office Web applications. Planned tools for the online applications failed to materialize as promised in the wake of October 2008's Professional Developers' Conference, where the idea of the online suite was officially unveiled.

How much of a setback this is remains to be seen. Microsoft is not yet in SAP territory, although the company faces a similar dilemma. The enterprise-resource planning (ERP) giant talked up the online version of its core business applications, but repeatedly failed to deliver anything beyond screen shots.

Making the applications available online posed a challenge to the core-on site business of SAP in the same way Office Web apps will make customers question the need for a full version of Office 2010. ®

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