Microsoft’s free web version of Office has finally been opened up to computing platforms other than windows. I’ve tried it on both Mac & Linux and it worked reasonably well though on linux there’s a frequent pester box to ‘improve’ the rendering of text by installing Microsoft Silverlight which of course you can’t do in Linux. I have no idea if Moonlight , the mono Silverlight project on linux ,would work but the performance didn’t seem bad enough to proceed down that particular potential road of disappointment.
I tried the web application on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and despite ‘the word on the street’ saying that the web office is optimised for Firefox and IE8 only I found no problems using Google Chrome. In fact I’d say it was less sluggish on Chrome than Firefox for me.
The most glaring omission for me is the complete inability to align or justify text around an embedded picture, clip art or table in Word. For me this is a serious flaw when comparing Microsoft’s web office offering against the more established alternatives such as Google Docs, Zoho Office,ThinkFree Office or Adobe’s Buzzword.
Maybe more features become enabled if you actually own a copy of the standalone Office application but presume that the Mac & Linux versions will remain forever crippled in some very key feature departments which slightly negates the whole idea of platform neutral web based applications available in the cloud.
Microsoft’s Office for web is free to users signed up to a live.com account and is available to Facebook users too albeit still in beta form via Docs.com.
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