Microsoft Office is a best and world known software suit. It is used by millions of people and organizations all over the world. It provides ability to create everything ranging from document, spreadsheets to very complex databases. Hence in most of cases the information in any organization is stored in office documents. If you requested any information say a letter or a balance sheet or purchase history, in most of the cases, the representative from that organization will mail you an office file which is of type document (doc or docx) or a spreadsheet (xls or xlsx).
Now if you are Windows Live (hotmail) user then you will not face any problem with those office file. Windows live comes with built in functionality to open and edit office docs online. If you are Gmail user, then also you will not face much problems, you can open it with Google Docs Viewer but sometime it may happen that the office document may lose is formatting in Google Docs. Anyways there is a desktop application from Microsoft named as Office Viewer. This is a free application to open office files in read only mode and can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Site. There is a web version of this office viewer dubbed as Office web app viewer. This office web app viewer is part of Skydrive and hence it is accessible to all of Windows live users.
If you are a windows live user then you can sign in to your live account and can open any document from your mail directly in office web app viewer. Additionally you can create, edit any office document with your Skydrive and office web apps.
If you are not a windows live user then also you can use office web app viewer to view office documents online. All you have to do is append the url of that file to ‘view.officeapps.live.com’ as shown below.
Here as an example, I have used a word file named as ‘word.doc’ which is located at web address (url) ‘http://ankurm.com/pages/word.doc’. You can use any office file from web. Just replace this url.
Say you are having two files one is ‘document.doc’ and another one is ‘presentation.ppt’. These files are situated at url ‘www.example.com/document.doc’ and ‘www.example.com/presentation.ppt’. Then you can use following links to open them in office web app viewer.
Office web apps are much better than Google Docs in terms of editing and features. If you are working with office files like word documents, excel spreadsheets and power presentations only than office web apps will help you. With help of office web apps you can work on your office documents from anywhere. But still there are limitations to office web app viewer. Office web app viewer works best with office documents only, but Google Docs viewer works with office documents and can handle PDF files, Adobe Photoshop files and even with AutoCAD drawings also. This is an added advantage of Google Docs.
Note: Microsoft has renamed ‘SkyDrive’ to ‘OneDrive’.