Microsoft released the first official test build of its Office Web Apps on Thursday. To access the build (that is, the free, consumer-focused build, not the corporate-focused Microsoft Online or on-premise ones), testers must be among a pre-approved, select group. They also must have a free Windows Live account, so they can get to the web-ified Office apps via Microsoft's free SkyDrive storage service.
The Excel Web App version that is part of the CTP released on Thursday is not feature-complete. But it will look familiar to client-based Excel users. The ability to embed an Excel Web App spreadsheet in a website is not yet enabled, for example, but will be enabled at launch next year.
The Word Web App — like the rest of the Web App suite — is going to include a Ribbon UI (but it is not there yet in the CTP). It also will be the only one of the pack to support printing. Microsoft has not said whether it plans to add a print capability to the other Web Apps. One cautionary note: in this CTP, the Word Web App will not allow users to create or edit documents. All you can use it for is to view and share. By the time the beta launches this autumn, the Word create/edit functionality should be turned on, however.
The PowerPoint Web App is designed primarily to let users view and collaborate on PowerPoint decks they have created locally. Testers running the CTP also will be able to create and edit PowerPoint presentations via the Web App version.
The OneNote note-taking Web App is not part of the 17 September CTP. Testers will not be able to try this piece of the suite until later this autumn, when Microsoft is planning to release a public beta of Web Apps.