I was working in Google Docs yesterday and thinking that I could be more efficient by creating documents in Word. However, Word doesn’t allow me to share my documents with coworkers. Perhaps Microsoft’s online Office Live workspace would bridge that gap.
I signed up and was pleasantly surprised that the site allowed me to use Firefox. After two confirmation e-mails I uploaded a Word doc and tried to edit it. Office Live prompted me to download and install a program to my hard drive. However even with this program it is not possible to edit documents directly using the web interface. The system “checks out” the file and opens it using your own copy of Office. This is true in either Firefox or Internet Explorer.
Sharing the document was easy enough. I’m not sure how many hoops my invited viewers will have to jump through to access the document, as they are not regular Office Live users. There is a checkbox that will allow viewers to see the document without logging in, so I hope that will streamline the sharing process.
So far the lack of direct online editing and the cumbersome signup process are major hindrances to this service. I’ll try it a bit more to see if there are any features that outstrip Google Docs in the online collaboration arena.