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Microsoft's Web Office trial gets limited release

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Microsoft has released the online version of its Office applications for limited technical evaluation. And limited is the word.

The version of Office Web apps will see at least one major feature implemented in Excel missing from Word and PowerPoint, while another familiar element of the Office family line up will be missing entirely from today's offering.

The omissions and today's release come after Microsoft said it would deliver the technical evaluation in August.

Under the trial, testers will be able to view, edit and create Excel spreadsheets, but not create Word and PowerPoint documents. It's also unclear whether you'll be able to actually edit Word documents.

Furthermore, while you'll be able to publish PowerPoint presentations and Excel workbooks to websites, blogs and wikis you won't be able to publish Word documents in the same way.

The Office Web apps version of OneNote is missing and will be made available "at a later milestone". Also absent are what Microsoft called "additional Office Web app features" including further integration with the planned Microsoft Office 2010 suite of products.

Microsoft said missing features would be made available in later "milestones." A spokesperson told The Reg a broadly available beta is expected later this year, with the release of the full Office Web apps suite by the first-half of next year.

Explaining the missing capabilities, the spokesperson said: "This is a technical preview. Web Apps aren't feature complete by any means at this point, and we will continue to update this service as we receive customer feedback and go through the testing phase."

The technical preview of the parts that are ready will be made available on an invitation only basis to beta testers through Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive online storage system. Also the applications are only available in English and in Japanese

Microsoft will also use today’s unveiling to announce the full names for the hosted versions of its Office applications, whether they are present or not. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will become Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote Web App respectively. ®

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