Office and Windows without walls

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Yesterday we heard Ray Ozzie announcing Azure (see prior post) with a focus on the cloud computing part. Today’s the announcements at PDC where about the client and the Live Services that complement it. We’ve come a long way in scaling and implementing services over the past couple of years allowing websites to consume services like Identity management with Live ID, Windows live messenger and presence information or Geospatial information. The missing link however is syncing information, devices and services together and consume them easily from whatever application. That’s exactly what the Live Framework is offering, a set of tools and SDK allowing developers to build their own synchronization like the one used in Live Mesh. Great stuff to demo and show how you can make a change through one device (e.g. phone) and see that change being replicated to another device (e.g. PC or app in a browser).

The most impressive announcement and demo for me however was how we’re extending the Office client applications into the cloud and offer light weight versions of them through the browser (IE, Firefox, Safari).  These web applications will enable people to view, edit and collaborate on Office documents from their PC’s, phones and browsers. The richness of the Office apps in the browser is just amazing, the ribbon is there, documents are 100% rendered as you have them through the full Office suite (thanks to Open XML format being used). Even the document editing or spreadsheet manipulation is super rich. All comparable to the quality of Outlook Web Access we already have today. This richness is obtained by using Silverlight for visualization and user experience. Office Web Applications will be available for free as advertising supported services through Office Live, AND through subscriptions as part of existing licensing for businesses. Launch will be as part of the next release of Office (14) with an earlier private preview. Details + some nice screenshots in the presspass site.
I First saw Office Web Applications being demoed in July when I was over at an internal conference and I’m still as excited about them as I was back then.

And then last but not least the first public display of Windows 7, next release of the client OS. In this release Windows and Windows Live are coming together to create a strong “Windows without walls” experience. The first pre-beta code was made available on the spot to PDC attendees. The highlights of this release are:

  • Extend Windows client with more Software + Services features (Photo gallery, mail, video editing, … integrated through Office Live)
  • Work the way you want
  • Deliver fundamental performance, reliability, and security features
  • Make everyday tasks faster and easier by streamline and simplifying the tasks you do most often
  • Make new things possible like interacting with your PC though multi-touch gestures (if you have one of these screens)

Next to that this conference day contained lots of info for developers that want to early adopt all this goodness, with practical info and even some hands-on labs. The rest of the week will be mostly parallel sessions so I leave it in the hands of the Belgian Bloggers on-site to provide you with the latest news.

Gill Cleeren

Katrien De Graeve (MS)

Grégory Renard

Pieter Gheysens

Kurt Claeys