Microsoft has announced that the consumer versions of its new Office Web Apps–browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote–are now available to anyone who cares to check them out. They’re headquarted at office.live.com, and you need a Live ID to access them.
I wrote about the Office Web Apps when I covered Office 2010 a few weeks ago. Certain things about them are impressive–mainly the desktop-esque look and feel and much-better-than-average support for Microsoft’s own file formats. Overall, though, I found them frustratingly rudimentary: Years after Google and Zoho jumpstarted the category of Web-based suites, Microsoft is entering the market that lacks features as basic as the ability to move elements around on the page. They’re far more interesting as adjuncts to Office 2010–a pretty solid upgrade–than as a self-contained competitor to other online productivity packages. Maybe that was Microsoft’s intention all along.
If you give them a try, let us know what you think.