Wave 4: Windows Live Office – A First Look

Office logoWindows Live Hotmail Wave 4 was officially unveiled yesterday, and one of the major upgrades to Hotmail is it’s tight integration with SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. As part of the announcement, Microsoft also revealed one of their newest web services – Windows Live Office. Being the replacement of Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live Office is now built on top of SkyDrive, very much like how Windows Live Photos is currently built on top of SkyDrive’s storage platform too. Here’s a screenshot of the new Windows Live Office homepage:

Windows Live Office

As you can see, the homepage features the list of all the document folders you have on SkyDrive on the left, categorised into those that are viewable to yourself only, and those you have decided to share with others. In the middle there’s a list of all the recent documents you have opened or edited, including those documents that are shared with you by others. At the bottom is the “Messenger social” feed, filtered to show only those related to Office documents (you would’ve noticed that the so-called “What’s New feed” in Wave 3 had been given a brand, and now it’s all referred to as “Messenger social” in Wave 4). Towards the right you have the four Office Web Apps icons, and clicking on them gives you quick access to create a new Office document online. Here’s a screenshot from Paul Thurrott showing what the new Office Web Apps header looks like – much different from what we have now:

Windows Live Office Header

Each Web App is given a colour theme of its own, matching their Office 2010 counterpart. Additionally, the header now tells you where that document is located on. So if you open a document attachment within your email, it will show “on Hotmail” on the top, and if you later decides to save it to you SkyDrive, it will show “on SkyDrive” instead.

What’s also new with Windows Live Office is versioning support, a feature inherited from Office Live Workspace. Here’s a screenshot showing a sidebar in Windows Live Office displaying the older versions available (thanks Vasudev @ meraTechPort for the first screenshot):

Version history

Windows Live Office - Versioning Support

As posted by LiveSino.net, Windows Live Office, as well as SkyDrive and Photos, now features an upload tool powered by Silverlight (it uses ActiveX plug-in before). This means that the upload tool is now supported cross-platform and cross-browser, and you can simply drag and drop files into SkyDrive as long as you are using a browser support by Silverlight:

Windows Live Office - Silverlight Upload tool

The new Windows Live SkyDrive (including Office and Photos) also has a new feature – automatic file clean up. When you upload a file onto SkyDrive, either directly or via Hotmail, you are now able to set an “expiration date” to the files. Of course, you can also select to have SkyDrive to keep the file indefinitely until you choose to delete them.


(Thanks Vasudev @ meraTechPort for the screenshot)

Of course, not all the goodies for Windows Live Office is in the desktop version. As reported earlier, Windows Live Office also has a mobile web version available.

(image removed upon request)

Is it possible that tapping into any of the documents using Windows Live Office Mobile might allow you to view the document using your mobile phone, perhaps using something similar to the Office 2010 Mobile Viewer?

I hope this has given you a first look at what to expect from the new Windows Live Office; or if you’re an existing Office Live Workspace user, what to expect after you upgrade to SkyDrive. The new improvements to Windows Live Office, as well as SkyDrive, are very solid, and you can see that Microsoft has invested a lot into improving you personal productivity with Windows Live. Stay tuned at LiveSide as we bring you more about Wave 4!