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Office Web Apps refresh likely on Microsoft's menu

With Office 15 for desktop beta expected this summer, a new "preview" version of Microsoft's cloud-based Office Web Apps will also surface this year, says one report.

An update to Office Web Apps could be slated for this summer.
An update to Office Web Apps could be slated for this summer.
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft Office users can expect to see a new version of Office Web Apps this summer, according to Windows Live enthusiast site

The cloud-based suite will reportedly be available in "preview" mode at the same time that Office 15 for the desktop is released as a beta. Users will be able to try the latest features of Office Web Apps to create or edit documents stored through SkyDrive or Hotmail, LiveSide added.

Little else is known or at least revealed about a new version of Office Web Apps. Microsoft did not immediately answer CNET's request for comment.

But an upcoming refresh could let people work with SkyDrive files stored in Microsoft's own default XML MS Office format or the OpenDocument Format.

Windows 8 will also offer cleaner integration between SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. Current versions of Windows force you to launch a SkyDrive Web page to view and open your online documents. But Microsoft's upcoming new OS displays a Metro Start screen tile for SkyDrive, letting you more quickly access any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file via its Office Web App program if the full version of Office is not installed.

Microsoft is also said to be providing more oomph to both Office for the desktop and Office Web Apps through new Web extensions dubbed "Agaves," according to The Verge tech news site.

Third-party developers will be able to use Agaves to increase the functionality of Office by allowing documents to interact with and embed content from Web pages more effectively than is currently possible.

Currently in Technical Preview mode, Office 15 for the desktop mimics some of the look, feel, and simplicity of a dedicated Metro app. Microsoft is reportedly encouraging Agaves developers to adopt the Metro style in their content, LiveSide said. So it sounds like the Metro design will extend its reach to Office Web Apps as well.