With the launch of Office 2010 Microsoft are now offering us a Free Web version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and today I got my Docs invite in the ePost so I can try it out for myself.

I am a frequent user of Office, I would go so far as to say I use it pretty much every day in job and/or at home so it is a product I am familiar with. Am I a power user as such, well some would say I am but I don’t put myself in that category.

So how will it stack up in my day to day work? Will it be a good complement or possible alternative or will it be a complete hack?

My first question is, is Docs actually Office on the Web or is this an extension of it? I am assuming it is the same thing but perhaps not??? Docs is integrated with Facebook allowing me to share documents with my friends allegedly although I could not get this feature to work. It’s still Beta so I am not perturbed by this.

What I did like straight away is how I can seamlessly work on the Web and then flip across to the Full Blown version of Office to edit the document, save my changes and have them published straight back to the web. This worked without a hitch in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Features that are not supported on the web are retained and a place holder is left in it’splace.

I can see the value in this when collaborating on documents, it’snice to have a Web version of these familiar products and best of all it’ free.

Word – First Impressions

My first impressions of Word is that everything looks familiar. I have a cut down version of the toolbars I am used to complete with a Spell Checker, Styles, Alignment, Indenting, Bullets, Numbering, Font selection, Size etc. It feels like a Word Processor and it works beautifully.

Microsoft Word for Web

In fact it works so well I am writing this blog post from within the Word application.

Don’t expect to use this application on an iPad though is all I have to say. This is not Microsoft’s problem, it’s Apple’s. Scrolling down a page is just not an option unless someone can show me how as it just scrolls the screen on an iPad and not the page.

Excel First Impressions

Excel is an application I have a love hate relationship with at the best of times. That said I am learning to love it more these days and can come up with a nice chart when I need to.

Excel on the Web again has some of the familiar toolbar items but feels like a much more cut down version of the the traditional desktop Excel. There is no option to create a chart, no facility (that I can find) to drag a group of selected cells to have them auto-fill like a sequence of dates for instance or extend the calculation down the columns as shown below.

Microsoft Excel for Web

I found it a bit weird that Word had a Save button but Excel didn’. Strange inconsistency but as long as my work doesn’ get lost I won’ lose sleep over it.

I was impressed that after editing a document in the full version of Excel and saving it (straight back to the web seamlessly again) and having included a chart it was displayed in the web version of Excel exactly the same. Nice.

PowerPoint First Impressions

PowerPoint is one of those apps that always seems kind of fluffy but you can’ deny the power of it. I don’ know, maybe it’s just me. I love how easy it is to create a really nice looking presentation with very little effort. When it comes to a presentation, looks really do matter.

For this test I decided to upload an existing presentation and see how well it fared. All going to plan I will use this to present next week to the IT Department on Visual Studio 2010 database features.

Microsoft PowerPoint for Web

Well I am very impressed. Everything looked perfect. I can edit my slides, add new slides, preview the slideshow and it all worked perfectly. As before I can switch across to the full version of PowerPoint no problem.

The one thing that did seem to be missing was being able to choose a theme for my presentation when creating a new one on the web. Other than that I could do all the basic operations which is what I would expect from a free offering.

Final Verdict

This looks like a really solid offering from Microsoft. I haven’ used the competitions stuff so I can’ compare them but for basic stuff and for someone who can’ afford the full blown Office this seems like a solid piece of freeware.