As the upcoming releases of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 draw closer, I’ve been highlighting some of the best new features that will be available this spring. This time, I’ll show you a very exciting feature that will allow your end users to work on their Office documents in a zero-client environment from within SharePoint 2010.

Working from the Cloud

When Google unleashed Google Docs to the world in 2007, they made it very clear to consumers that being able to create and edit documents from the web is very cool. And not only can you just create documents for viewing later, but you can easily share those documents with others so they can edit them too.

Clearly, Microsoft missed the train on this one, as they were still trying to sell Live as a compelling online experience, and it had none of these features.

Since then, a lot has changed. Google Docs is still going strong with an ever-growing list of new features, while Microsoft is close to releasing its answer to the question of online document authoring. And they definitely have a few tricks up their sleeves this time around.

Office 2010 Web Apps

Google’s monopoly on inventing just about every cool web tool is coming to a close. Their dominance taught Microsoft a valuable lesson about what people really want from an online experience.

Some of those things are that they don’t want to be jailed to Internet Explorer, and they don’t want to be charged for something that they can get for free elsewhere. Not only is Microsoft committed towards keeping these web apps free (for Live users), but they work pretty flawlessly in FireFox and Safari as well.

As you can see below, I’ve used FireFox to create an Excel spreadsheet from Windows Live Skydrive without a hitch.


Windows Live SkyDrive

The User Experience You Know So Well

What’s so attractive about Office 2010 Web Apps in comparison to Google Docs is that I’m using a familiar interface, and I’ve got most of the functionality I’m accustomed to. As cool as Google Docs is, it’s not what I’m accustomed to when I’m working from the office, and it doesn’t have a lot of the functionality that I want.

I also have the ability to save right to my SkyDrive account from any supported Office 2010 client application, something I can’t do with Google Docs.