Over the next few months, Microsoft will roll out improved collaboration features in Office Web Apps that will enable real-time co-authoring on desktop browsers and improved editing in Android and iOS devices.
Microsoft has lifted the covers on a pre-release version of its Office Web Apps that will deliver presence to co-authored documents and real-time edits that are updated on the go without the need to refresh the page.
Real-time co-authoring has been possible on the desktop-installed versions of Office since 2010, but richer collaboration capabilities have been missing from its stripped down web version.
The updates, expected "over the coming months", will enable cell-level real-time co-authoring in Excel, and real-time editing in Word and PowerPoint.
In a new demonstration of the pre-release web apps on a notebook, Microsoft showed off that the updates will offer more than just real-time text-co-authoring and include document formatting and design elements.
For example, while including co-authored tables to a document is possible today, the new version will allow collaborators to make live formatting changes, such as fonts. Presence features allow contributors to see where they are in a document.
In Excel, collaborators will be able view which cells are being updated as they occur, as well as changes these cause in cell-dependent charts.
The future updates will also extend document editing capabilities currently supported on Windows 8 tablets and iPads to Android devices, thanks to Chrome for mobile support; though it's not clear whether real-time co-authoring is on the list for mobile.
Microsoft announced in May that Office Web Apps will get a number of new collaboration features "over the next year", but it is not been more specific than that.
, the first wave of updates to Office Web Apps are expected to come by around October 2013 and timed to coincide with the release of Windows Blue.