To use the new Microsoft web apps (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) you need to access Microsoft's SkyDrive at You need to have or create a free Windows Live ID to use the SkyDrive which gives you 25G of free online storage.

Once in SkyDrive choose the Office options to create and view folders. Then to use the Excel Office App click on the Excel icon under the heading "Create a new online document". Give the file a name, such as test1 then click the Save button. The Excel web app opens.

The Excel Web App looks similar to Excel 2007/2010 but only has three ribbon tabs, File, Home and Insert.

The File tab takes you to a single column list of file management commands including Open in Excel (on your computer), Save As, Share and Download a Copy. As you work in the Excel App your data is saved as you go along, so there is no Save option!

Click on the Home tab and you'll see command groups for Clipboard, Font, Alignment, Number, Table and Cells. The Clipboard commands cover copy and paste. The Font commands cover font, colour, border and shading. The Alignment commands cover cell alignment and text wrapping.

The Number commands cover a wide range of number formats with decimal place options. The Tables Commands cover applying Table formatting with autofilter and totals row options. Cells Commands cover adding and deleting cells.

The Data commands cover refreshing any external data sources, refreshing pivot tables and recalcs, and Find.

The Insert Tab has command Groups for Tables, Charts and Links. The table command lets you apply table formatting to a range of cells. You can add basic charts using the Charts command. Types include column, bar, pie and line charts, but only basic 2-d versions. Once a chart is created a context tab appears allowing you to edit the chart.

Although there is no Insert Function command, you can add formula or functions directly into cells as you would normally do in Excel. So if you type =SUM an auto pop down appears as you enter the function in the same way as in Excel 2007/2010, letting you choose which function to apply once you've typed the first or following letter of the function.

However once the function name is typed in followed by an open bracket, there is no yellow help prompt to indicate the function elements, so you need to know how to apply any particular function.

Bearing in mind working with the Excel Web App is remote working, data entry may seem sluggish depending on the speed of your internet connection, but the file is saved and updated as you proceed. You can also create a file in Excel 2010 and save directly to the SkyDrive. To do this you first choose the File tab, then Save to Web. If necessary you then need to logon to your SkyDrive account. You can then choose a folder, or create a new one, to save the Excel file to. Excel then adds the SkyDrive folder as a new network location on your local computer, so you can return to this location with Excel 2010 as often as you like.

You can also use a browser such as Internet Explorer 8 to access your Excel 2010 files. Just navigate to the SkyDrive, login, and choose the Office option. You'll be taken to your folders created earlier. To view the Excel file just click one the Edit file link to the right of the filename, or click once to open the Excel viewer and then click the link "Edit in Browser".

Excel Web Apps save using the new Excel 20007/2010 format, with the extension .XLSX. You can copy and paste files from your computer directly to your SkyDrive. If you copy an Excel 2003 file to your SkyDrive, the Web App will prompt you to Save a Copy into Excel 2007 format.

Using Office Web Apps also lets you share the files through folder permissions, so you can allow multi user editing at the same time.


Using the new Office web apps in conjunction with SkyDrive is straightforward and lets you create and edit basic Excel files using an up to date browser. You can also create and edit Excel 2007/2010 files directly from Excel 2010 through an internet connection and you can manage file sharing by setting folder access permissions in your SkyDrive space.

To learn much more about the Office web apps why not consider attending training course and really boost your skills further.