Microsoft launches Office Web Apps tech preview

Google Documents is about to get some competition from the big dog. As ComputerWorld writes, Microsoft has kicked off an invite-only "technical preview" of Office Web Apps, the web-based version of its office productivity suite.

The preview includes online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, with a web-based OneNote to follow a little later. Already, "tens of thousands" of users have received invitations to participate. Brian Hall from the Windows Live team says those folks should be able to access the web apps through Windows Live SkyDrive. He's posted a video of the software in action (and an Office product manager waving his hands a little too much), as well:

A public test will open "before the end of this year," ComputerWorld adds, allowing more users to get a feel for how Office apps can run in their browsers.

The completed of Office Web Apps should roll out alongside Office 2010 in the first half of next year. Access will be free through Windows Live and for companies with Office Software Assurance plans, but other businesses will reportedly have to pay a subscription.

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