Microsoft Web Apps: document creation in the cloud for the truly savvy collegiette

Call me ridiculous, but I'm a bit obsessed with staying constantly connected and in sync on-the-go. I'm known for keeping my music library impeccably organized and mirrored across all my devices, and -- the Her Campus exec team will testify to this -- insisting that the team stay (perhaps neurotically) coordinated with the various documents and decks that we share internally and with our clients.

So imagine my excitement when I learned about Microsoft's Web Apps -- a suite of free web-based versions of their most popular software: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and the ability to save documents online via Microsoft's SkyDrive technology. These tools enable me to open, edit, and share my documents on all of my devices and with any potential collaborators. They give you the freedom to use Microsoft software to create the documents you need every day, with the added convenience of web syncing. In other words, using Microsoft Web Apps is a no-brainer if I want to keep document creation at my fingertips at all times, just like everything else in my life!

As a savvy collegiette, you've probably heard of other cloud based sharing tools before, but there are a couple obvious reasons why Microsoft Web Apps dominate the competition, and why you have to try them out.

A screenshot of me writing this post using the Word Web App! Super meta.

First, the Microsoft suite of products is the gold standard for creating and presenting professional documents for class, work, and everything in between! I don't have to remind you of your professor's formatting requirements: Email in a Word document. Present a PowerPoint in front of the class. When I first started using the Word Web App, I was so pleasantly surprised to see all of those familiar formatting tools right there, just as if I were in Microsoft Word (minus some of the really advanced features). This is particularly useful because when you're sitting in that one forsaken lecture hall with no internet connection, you can seamlessly open your document in Word and continue editing it without missing a beat. No more annoying copying and pasting and dealing with inconsistent formatting!

Speaking of efficiency, how about reason number two: collaborative editing (of real documents, not web ones). We used to have this complicated process where one person would create a document, save it, and email it to the next person to edit. The next improvement was storing the document in the cloud so we could all automatically download the most recent version of the document and work on it -- but still separately, and one-at-a-time. Microsoft Web Apps is the holy grail of real-time editing of documents, because you don't have to wait for someone else to finish working with the document before you start. You can all work together at the same time (more on collaborative editing)! And let me reiterate again, we're talking about real documents, not just web documents. Think about how much faster you can eliminate the downtime and finish that group project!

For me, the PowerPoint Web App brings all of these advantages together. There's simply no other way to create a compelling deck, and definitely not in the cloud. Competitors may allow you to create "presentations" online, but because your end product has to be a PowerPoint, you're really in the best shape when you start and end with PowerPoint itself. Here at Her Campus, we have dozens of decks that always need to be updated, with input from our editorial, marketing, and web departments. With the PowerPoint Web App, we can all work on our respective edits simultaneously.

The bottom line: Microsoft Web Apps are, well, apps! They combine the process of creating a document AND storing it in the cloud; not just the former, and not just the latter. You won't find the broad power of software plus the storage capabilities anywhere else. Two thumbs up for might and efficiency!

So go ahead and try out Microsoft Web Apps right now! You'll be able to use the Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote Web Apps for free, and you'll find an easy way to view all your documents via a folder on your computer corresponding to your SkyDrive storage account. Enjoy!