A few days ago Microsoft started rolling out a Technical Preview of Office Web Apps, the long-awaited online version of the new Office 2010 suite. However the event was so successful that invites quickly ran out and the Preview was closed. As one of the hundred users who were left out, I started looking for alternative ways to try Web Apps, until I finally stumbled upon this simple trick on Cecilia’s blog.
All you have to do is login to Live SkyDrive, the free online storage service provided by Microsoft. If you don’t have an account in SkyDrive, you can easily create one with your Live user (that is, your old Hotmail address or Messenger user). Once, you’re inside SkyDrive, you need to upload at least one Office document to any of your folders.
As soon as there’s an Office document in your SkyDrive account, you’ll see a link to join the Preview program to test Web apps. Click the link, accept the terms and you’re in!
Note that Office Web Apps are still under development and have some serious limitations. To begin with, online Word is not available yet. Also, you’ll need to convert old Office files to the newest format (that is, PPT to PPTX, for example), though this seems to be done automatically by the suite itself, while keeping a backup copy of the old document.
As you can see, online Office apps still look quite unfinished and need a lot more polishing but anyway, this trick will be come in handy for those of us who always need to peek at new apps before they’re officially released.