Microsoft Office Web Apps is an online web-based version of Office business productivity suite, which will be available for free without cost as part of Windows Live collection of services and applications, and replaces Office Live Workspace when it goes live. Office Web Apps includes Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote WebApp.

The web applications allow users to upload, create, edit, access, download, share and collaborate the files and documents with other users online with just a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, or Windows PC or Mac OS X system. However, Office Web Apps is not intended as a total replacement for desktop Office applications, rather with just commonly used basic editing and manipulating functionality to act as online extension or companion to Office desktop suite and installed applications.

Office Web Apps is particular useful for users working on a PC or computer which does not have Microsoft Office installed, but requires to open to view or edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. The Office Web Apps also potentially eliminate formatting and alignment problems when opening files on another PC from which different with the system used to create the Office files, in addition to benefiting users on the move who always need access to the files and users who want a convenient way to share files with others.

Microsoft has started to roll out Community Technical Preview (CTP) of Microsoft Office Web Apps by sending out invitations to exclusively selected Windows Live SkyDrive users. The rest of people is invited to register for an invite for Office 2010 and Office Web Apps beta. Apparently, the invitation does not too exclusive after all, as most if not all Windows Live SkyDrive users can now get free invite to join the Technical Preview of Office Web Apps almost instantly.

Workaround to Join and Access Office Web Apps without Invite

  1. Sign into Windows Live SkyDrive with any Windows Live ID (MSN Passport user name and password credentials).
  2. As the Office Web Apps is currently opened for US residents only, change the profile setting of the Windows Live ID to US and English, at the following location:

    Contact Info:
    Registered Information (optional, try if unsuccessfully get into the preview):

  3. Upload a Microsoft Office file (e.g. Word .doc document, Excel .xls spreadsheet, PowerPoint .ppt presentation) into the My Documents on the Skydrive.
  4. Once the Office document is uploaded, a “Join our preview program to create, edit, view, and share Office documents online! Learn more” message will be displayed.

    Sign Up for Office Web Apps Preview

    Note: It may take some time for the invite to show, so just browse around.

  5. Click on the Join our preview program link.

    If you’re on the “Learn More” page which stating “You’ve been selected for the TechnicalPreview of Microsoft Office Web Apps”, click on start using the Office Web Apps today link.

  6. Click Accept button to accept the license agreement.

    Accept Office Web Apps EULA

  7. The Office Web Apps is now activated and can be used instantly. A message stating “Thanks for joining our preview program. To create a new document, click New and select the type of document you’d like to create” will be displayed on Windows Live SkyDrive.

    Create New Documents with Office Web Apps

    User can create new Excel workbook, PowerPoint presentation, Word document and OneNote notebook online with Office Web Apps. To edit or view existing files, select the document then click View to display and show the file or Edit to edit it.

Excel Web App (Part of Office Web Apps)

Update: Office Web Apps is now available publicly.