Microsoft's Office Web Apps moving ahead with 'Gemini' wave

Microsoft's Office Web Apps moving ahead with 'Gemini' wave

Summary: Microsoft is moving ahead with new features in its Office Web Apps -- a key piece of its devices and services corporate makeover -- with its 'Gemini' wave of deliverables.


Like the rest of the Microsoft Office unit, the Office Web Apps team seems to be on a path to deliver more new updates more frequently.


This week, the Web Apps team (which also internally goes by WAC, or Web Applications Companion) blogged about some of the new features coming to Office Web Apps "over the next year and beyond." These include official support for Chrome on Android tablets and real-time co-authoring (instead of "same-time" authoring), starting with PowerPoint Web App.

Microsoft officials also previously have said that Yammer integration will be coming to Office Web Apps, too, starting this fall. Specifically, the Softies said to expect integration of the Office Web Apps' editing/coediting of Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents with Yammer.

From an internal Microsoft roadmap I saw -- which I believe to have been current as of early this year -- the first wave of Microsoft's next Office Web App updates will be available around October 2013, as part of the Gemini 1 wave. Another set of updates to Office Web Apps will hit a year later, around October 2014 (Gemini 2).

Gemini is the codename for the coming wave of Microsoft Office updates, the first of which will coincide roughly with Windows Blue. The Gemini 1 wave will include new Metro-Style/Windows Store versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint, according to my sources, in addition to some of the Office Web Apps. Microsoft officials are not commenting on anything having to do with Gemini.

Microsoft's Office Web Apps are the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote which Microsoft first introduced with Office 2010. Office Web Apps are usable in a variety of browsers -- including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari -- on different operating systems and form factors (PCs, tablets, smartphones). Microsoft also built a version of Office Web Apps customized for Facebook which is called Office Docs

Office Web Apps include a subset of the functionality in the full Office versions of each of the apps. Microsoft released to the Web the most recent set of Office Web Apps updates in conjunction with Office 2013/Office 365 in October 2012.

Could there be an Office Web Apps-Nook connection?

Microsoft claimed last year to have 50 million active Office Web Apps users. But its goal, based on a job posting on the Microsoft Careers site, is to build out Office Web Apps to scale out to 100 million-plus users.

"The (Office) Web Apps organization is at the center of Office’s Software + Services transformation," the job posting noted. The job post also noted that the Office Web Apps team owns "vertical end-to-end scenarios related to collaboration and authoring in the Word Web App."

One of the vertical scenarios the Office honchos have said they would like to address with Office is education. I wouldn't be surprised to see Barnes & Noble figure into the equation here, given Microsoft's investment in the Nook Media subsidiary.

One of Nook Media's most profitable businesses involves its college business. And as Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch hinted last year, authoring/publishing scenarios are a place where there could be synergies between Microsoft Office and Nook. Last summer, Lynch told Fortune:

"(I)magine an integration where an information worker, student, author, consumer, creates something in Office and has it immediately published for sale through the Nook book store. It starts to open a lot of exciting possibilities."

For the time-being, however, neither Barnes & Noble or Nook Media offers Office-centric self-publishing tools. The recently introduced Nook Press tool doesn't support Office, as a Barnes & Noble spokesperson confirmed when I asked. 

The official statement: "At this time NOOK Press is a Barnes & Noble web based author publishing tool. At this time we do not have any immediate plans in integrating NOOK Press with Microsoft Office."

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Microsoft, Google Apps


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Good MSFT journalism

    I always learn stuff from your articles
  • MSFT will own the cloud and the enterprises

    reluctant to take the leap.
    Windows 8.1 will eventually own the smartphone and tablet space as well.

    Don't give your software away to Terrorists!!!! Use the closed source model.
    • Nearly every terrorist host countries already have the source to windows.

      So avoid Windows... you don't know where it has been.
      • Even though MSFT has shared SOME code with partners....

        please provide data to back up your assertion that nearly every terrorist host country already has the source to windows.
        No "The Register" links et al please.
        but with Open Source, we know w/o any guessing or speculation that every terrorist nation and cell in the world has full access to all of it, period, end of story.
        And people like Jeremy at Samba should stop using his resouces to reverse engineer Windows. If Linux is so great, why does he desperately need that Windows code for SMB, for example.
        • That's a good one!

          The "please provide data" nearly killed me with laughter! Best joke in ages. Please provide data that you are not a MS employee. Or that you're not an Internet bot. Ha! That's really funny! You really have a very low sense of ridiculous, now do you?
          • Too bad it was only "nearly".

            Is that how I should respond to your masterful post?

            So you are just another, average, every day, hum drum, ho hum MSFT Hater.

            You can go pin another MSFT hater badge on your chest, or whatever you might call it.
  • MS shills

    "Windows 8.1 will eventually own the smartphone and tablet space as well. "

    Yes ... and pigs will grow wings and fly south for the winter. MS shills are hilarious and so transparent.
    • I love the haters...

      ..if you are so sure that you are right, put your money where your mouth is and try shorting their stock. Enuff said.
      • "shorting stock"

        is "terminology" too often overheard at monkeysoft, instead of job-related terminology
        • communismco....

          So when did you work at MSFT? What was your position and exactly how many people did you hear talking about "shorting"? Without something to back up your statement, you are simply expecting people to believe you because you typed it on the internet. Of course that is the mentality of the haters.
          With the record profits that eclipse Google and it's fragmented linsux experiment, I can see where haters are still mad as hell.
          And to prove that open source zealots have double standards, you only have to go back a few years and their posts that showed their outright hatred of adverts, which is the only thing, after over a decade, that Google is making money over. But they are behind Google and forgive the their selling out on search to the top bidder and caving to China and making their internet experience more about ads, using their personal information, than anything.
          In the past they woudl be steaming mad to find that MSFT keeps track of their updates so that Windows update could work correctly!

          Way to talk out of both sides of your mouth and totally sellout.
  • The Cloud = Financial Gun To Head

    You thought Oracle was expensive, wait until you've had the bill for five years of Office subscription.
    Alan Smithie
    • Or the price increases after they own all your files.

      Company will be held for ransom - as without paying you don't get access.
      • Here comes the FUD parade and Jessepollard, as usual is grand marshall....

        You obviously don't understand the pricing, let the FUD fly.
        $croogle charges 50.00 per head per year for your email and another 50.00 (or is it 100.00 now) for apps per head per year...what else do you need to us $croogle and have your data captive indefinately? $croogle has been holding your data captive since the first version of gmail and $croogle desktop with a policy of keeping your personal email indefinately. They take w/o asking and sell search to the highest bidder. You can't use the internet without $croogle collecting your information. The same information you got raging mad over if you thought MSFT was touching but now that it's $croogle literally stealing it, along with your wi-fi data, it's totally ok.
        a few sets of two words describe the MSFT haters perfectly: Two faced. or double standards.

        Funny how Google's profits still come completely from Windows machines. They can't survive w/o Microsoft and have been riding their coattails all the way.
        W/o the massive windows infrastructure there is no Google and no ipod/pads etc w/o itunes for windows. Also the web would be decades behind if it would have had to wait for Linux to take 25 years to mature. Or maybe it woudl have grown on the 3000.00 Macs of the 80s. LOL.
        The haters live for spreading FUD.
    • Alan's cheaper than 5 years....

      of $croogle's mail...and only mail. By the time you pay the per head, per year prices on $croogle products, which are far inferior, you've paid 10 times as much over the long term and they don't ask for your data they take it and always have since gmail and $croogle desktop were hatched.
      Stealing wi-fi data, caving to China, being evil....that's $croogle.
      MSFT does not sell search results to the highest bigger like $croogle and Bing has become the go to search at work, $croogle has started to suck.
      But you won't have to wait for the bill with $croogle, they want it up front.
      $croogle was born and still lives on Windows. it's revenues all come from advertising on Windows infrastructure.
      Kind of ironic that you hate $croogle's golden goose isnt' it Smithe
      • You should thank Louis Pasteur

        He discovered the vaccine for rabies.
        Alan Smithie
        • As usual, the haters can only counter with ad hominem attacks.

          Unfortunately for you Alan, nobody has discovered an anti-db vaccine.
    • Why!??

      ... should I subscribe to MSOffice online?!? Already purchased OFF line packages that will be sufficient for at least 2 decades from now on. After all... aside from word processing and spreadsheeting... I need nothing else! The mail is all on Linux already and I'm using Thunderbird for accessing the server... No sweat!
      • Kostaghus,

        what makes you think anyone is interested in your personal musings?
        I'm sure you run a humdinger of a shop there, but did it ever dawn on you there may be people that need far more functionality and productivity than you.
        For instance, you obviously don't even understand the biggest reason Windows 7 is far superior to win98se or XP to anyone that runs anything from a small to large business.
        How do you switch user on a win98se machine, or XP for that matter on a domain?
  • Has anyone tried Microsoft Web Apps with Internet Explorer 8? It's not pretty.
  • Where is the benefit

    I know everyone says the cloud is the future, but i still need someone to show the benefit. Is a copy of all documents cached on MS servers and if so who owns that copy? I would be surprised if it were the end user. Also, in many areas there is spotty internet at best. These users will be stuck with having to pay more or not having access to office at all at some point? Personally I cannot see myself using a web service whose only real purpose appears to be only to generate a more consistent revenue stream to MS without many benefits or to come to the end user.