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Microsoft updates Office Web Apps, Facebook Docs

Responding to user requests, Microsoft beefs up its online Office Web Apps with the ability to print from Word and easily modify charts in Excel. It builds up its Facebook Docs app as well.

The PowerPoint Web App now lets you tap into Microsoft's online library of clip art.
The PowerPoint Web App now lets you tap into Microsoft's online library of clip art. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Although officially only two months old, Microsoft's Office Web Apps is already growing up a bit.

To satisfy just some of the many user requests for new features, Microsoft this week updated its online version of Office with enhancements to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

One of the most requested features, according to a company blog post, was the ability to print from the Word editor. Previously, you could only print from the Word viewer. Clicking on the File menu in the Word Web App editor now displays a Print command that lets you send a document to your local or network printer.

Excel also boasts a couple of useful improvements. You'll now find a new way to insert and tweak your charts. Clicking on the Insert tab gives you the ability to add different types of charts and modify them similarly to the way you can in Excel 2010. Those of you who use the autofill feature in Excel will now find it in the online version as well. Autofill lets you enter a number, date, or similar item in a cell and then populate the adjacent cells with the next several items in that sequence.

Finally, the folks in Redmond have brought clip art to the PowerPoint Web App. Clicking on the Insert menu and choosing Clip Art lets you search for and add royalty-free artwork from's library of more than 200,000 images.

Microsoft has also been busy with Docs, the Facebook Office app created by the gurus at its Fuse Labs group.

Courtesy of the new round of changes to Docs, you can now tag your documents with keywords to help you better organize and track them down. You can also search for public documents based on name, Facebook page, or tag. Docs itself sports a new look and feel designed to make it more user-friendly. Both the keyword tagging and search options were among the features most requested by Docs users, according to Microsoft's Docs blog.