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Microsoft makes sharing Excel workbooks in Teams happen in real-time with 'Excel Live'

Microsoft continues improving real-time collaboration capabilities in its Office apps within Teams. Its latest effort: 'Excel Live.'
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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is continuing to make real-time collaboration actually work inside Teams. Its latest effort in this space is called Excel Live. This feature will be available in public preview at the end of August. Microsoft officials announced Excel Live on Day 1 of the company's annual Inspire partner conference on July 19.

Excel Live is meant to allow people in a meeting to be able to collaborate in real-time inside of Teams meetings on their Excel content. Like PowerPoint Live, which Microsoft introduced earlier this year, Excel Live allows users to access and share their latest Excel workbooks by using the Share tray in Teams. Once a workbook is shared, everyone in a meeting can edit the Excel file directly from the meeting screen.

The new feature supports Sheet Views so that everyone co-editing a workbook can create customized views to sort or filter information without disrupting anyone else's view. Users can set permissions and use "Show Changes" to make sure edits were made during a meeting.

(Users also can access the Excel Live experience from within Excel for the Web using Share and then "Work together in Teams.')

I think the new Excel Live capability will use Fluid Framework technology under the covers like Live Share in Teams, which Microsoft introduced at Build 2022, does. Fluid Framework is Microsoft's fast co-authoring and embedding technology. Teams hosting and managing runs on top of the Azure Fluid Relay service, which is what supports Fluid Framework clients.

I've asked Microsoft to confirm whether Excel Live is built on top of the Fluid Framework technology -- and whether we should expect more real-time "Live" collaboration experiences built on Fluid for Word, OneNote and other Office apps. No word back so far. 

Update: Surprisingly (to me), this new Excel Live capability is not built on the Fluid service at all, a spokesperson said. Even though Fluid Framework/Fluid Relay is all about super-fast/near real-time coauthoring, Microsoft is enabling the new collaboration in Excel Live in some other unspecified way. 

Update No. 2: Actually, as I had guessed, Excel Live IS built on the Fluid Framework technology. Glad I double-checked what others were telling other publications.

Update No. 3 (July 22): Third answer is hopefully the charm. Excel Live is NOT based on Fluid Framework, officials said correcting some previous erroneous communications. A spokesperson sent me the following via email today: "Excel Live is not built on Fluid Framework. Rather, it uses similar underlying technology that offers the same type of real-time sync and co-authoring functionality that Fluid enables."

As to when and if this kind of improved collaboration will come to OneNote, Word, etc., the official answer, from a spokesperson: "We will continue building live collaboration capabilities into our first party portfolio and you can expect to see more from us later this year. We'll share more around the roadmap and timelines in the future."

In other Teams-related news at Build, Microsoft also announced the new Video Clip feature coming to Teams Chat that will let users record, send and view short videos. Video Clip is built using Microsoft's Stream video platform and will work with the newly announced Viva Engage module that Microsoft announced today at Inspire. Video Clip will be in public preview in August and generally available in September.

Microsoft also showed off collaborative annotations for Teams which will allow all meeting participants to draw, type and react on top of/to content that's shared in a meeting using the Microsoft Whiteboard toolset. Collaborative annotations are now generally available.

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