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Sep 17 2009   6:42PM GMT

Microsoft starts testing Office Web Apps

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Last year Microsoft promised light-weight, browser-born analogues to its Office applications juggernaut.
Today, it’s ready to let some invited outsiders test Office Web Apps. At least some of them.

The new offerings–which will try to blunt the threat of freebie Google apps, are: Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and (you guessed it) OneNote Web App.

Wannabe testers can sign up here.

Microsoft has to tread a very fine line here. It has to offer customers–who’ve been spoiled pretty slick freeware from Google, Zoho and others–with some good stuff. But it also has to protect its cash cow Office franchise. And it has to figure out how (or if) Microsoft partners–folks who, face it, still rely on software sales margins to keep the lights on –in the game.

From early reading it appears there have been some big tradeoffs. You can read Word docs in Word Web App but can’t edit them? Hmmmm.

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