Office Online should be part of every SharePoint 2013 implementation. Why? Let me tell you.
1. Preview search results
John is looking for a particular proposal related to his client, Liteware, but he isn’t exactly sure which one he has in mind. He opens the SharePoint Intranet portal and executes a search, which you can see in Figure 1:
Figure 1: Search screen
Office Online provides John with a document preview, and he is now able to identify and quickly scan through the document without actually downloading it, as shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2: Document preview
John can zoom in and out by double-clicking. Within a matter of seconds, without downloading the complete document, John knows if this is the correct proposal. This saves John and his colleagues’ valuable time.
2. Feature important documents on the home page
Alex is the team leader of the Research department. He recently held a lessons-learned presentation. The presentation contains valuable content for the team members but also for visitors of the site. Alex wants to highlight the presentation on the home page of the Research SharePoint team site. This is really easy because every Office document opened in the browser contains an embed code to view the document on other locations. To retrieve the embed code, Alex opens the callout menu of the presentation, which you see in Figure 3:
Figure 3: Embed code
The next step for Alex is clicking on the icon, marked with the black square, as displayed in Figure 4:
Figure 4: Embed icon
By clicking on Embed Information the embed code appears, which you can see in Figure 5:
Figure 5: Document embedding
Alex can copy the code and edit the Research team site. He clicks on Site actions and Edit page and clicks in the Page Content field. As you see below, the ribbon contains an Embed Code option, which is shown below. Alex can click on this option and get a dialog that lets him enter the embed code, as you see in Figure 6:
Figure 6: Embed Code option
By entering the embed code, Alex gets a nice preview of how his presentation will appear on the home page, as you see in Figure 7:
Figure 7: Home page preview
Alex is satisfied with the preview, and clicks on Insert in the Embed dialog, as shown in Figure 8:
Figure 8: Embed dialog
The presentation is now available on the home page. If readers find the size too small, they can open the presentation in another tab by clicking on the symbol marked in Figure 9:
Figure 9: Open presentation in a new tab
3. Access documents for mobile devices
The Office Web Apps (now named Office Online) were introduced with SharePoint 2010. At the time, May 2010, a mobile revolution was well on its way, with the introduction of the iPhone and Android smartphones. The resurrection of tablets had started a month earlier with the launch of the iPad. With the rising popularity of these new devices came the desire to use mobile devices to work with SharePoint. Unfortunately, at that time, to function properly Office Web Apps required users to install Silverlight and mobile devices didn’t support Silverlight. This all changed with SharePoint 2013 and the deprecation of Silverlight, and access to devices is not limited to Microsoft devices.
Let's see how mobile access works now. Take Anne, for example. Anne commutes every day to work by train. The train has free Wi-Fi and she wants to add more content to the Liteware contract. She takes her iPad, connects to the Wi-Fi, and opens the SharePoint Extranet Portal, as shown in Figure 10:
Figure 10: SharePoint extranet portal
Anne is able to use Word Online to make additional changes to the contract so that she can later discuss these at the office with the legal team.
4. No need for a local Office client
The previous example showed that a local Office client is no longer necessary to view and edit Office documents. Of course, not all the features of the local Office client are present with Office Online, but for many cases, you can get the job done! Instead of creating an Office document locally and then uploading it to SharePoint, why not create the document in SharePoint? You just use the menu shown in Figure 11:
Figure 11: Create a document in SharePoint
SharePoint 2013 and the Office Online allow you to create and save your favorite Office documents directly in SharePoint.
I'm convinced! When can I start using Office Online?
In SharePoint 2010, the Office Web Apps were installed as Service Applications and sold as a separate license with Office 365. This changed with the introduction of SharePoint 2013. SharePoint Online 2013 doesn’t require an additional license for Office Online. It’s included in all the Office 365 plans apart from the Exchange Online Plan 1. Please click here to read more.
Are you using SharePoint On-Premises? You have to install the Office Online on a server. Please click here to read more.