Microsoft updates Office Web Apps with refreshed UI

When it comes to the Office suite, the spotlight usually shines on the various desktop applications that many of us have come to know so well. Many forget – or simply don’t know about – the range of Office Web Apps that can be used through a browser, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from continuing to develop and improve these apps alongside their desktop counterparts.

Today, Microsoft quietly updated its Office Web Apps with a range of small but welcome enhancements, including some user interface changes. Although there has been no official announcement about the updates, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that some changes have been made.

Most of the improvements focus on the UI, with design alterations to the title bar and Ribbon interface, which now includes a prominent ‘Share’ button that allows users to easily provide access to documents for others via SkyDrive.

Compare, for example, the old interface for the PowerPoint Web App…

…to the new one launched today:

In OneNote, finding notebooks has become a little easier with the introduction of a two-column navigation structure on the left (similar to the OneNote app for Windows 8/RT). A new 'help' feature has also been added to the Word and Excel apps, in the form of a ‘Tell me what you want to do’ search bar that will soon make it to the PowerPoint app also. This feature allows users to search for features or tools across each app, and apply changes more easily from the search results. 

It's also worth noting an observation from Wes Miller of Directions On Microsoft, who tweeted: 

Those who use Office Web Apps on touch-enabled devices will no doubt appreciate these improvements, especially given that 'touch-first' version of the full Office apps are still several months away. 

Source: TechCrunch | top image via TechCrunch

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