One of the major features that Google Apps touts is the ability to have multiple people working on a document at the same time. What many don’t know is that the same is possible using Microsoft Office Web Apps and desktop applications via Office 365.
When you work on an Office document from SharePoint in Office 365 you can do so directly via a browser using Office Web Apps or a desktop application like Word and Excel. When a second user opens the same document, in whatever way they choose, they can also start editing the document.
As a soon as additional users access the document the total number of users appears in the lower part of the screen along with a message advising other editors.
Everyone can now word on the document together.
Unlike Google Apps, Office co-authoring locks the paragraph that other users are working with to prevent overwrites.
Other editors can easily see who is editing that section in their screen. They can also quickly and easily launch a chat or video call session with these users if they Lync installed. This allows editors to more easily collaborate with each other no matter where they currently are.
A future update to Office Web Apps will allow users to view other editing changes in real time as now currently happens with Google Apps but research has shown that showing edits in real time proves more distracting that it is worth, however at least future updates to the Microsoft platform will provide users the option to enable or disable to suit their needs.
The ability to simultaneously work on documents has been a feature of Microsoft applications for a while now but many people don’t seem to appreciate this. Combined with the power of other Microsoft properties like Lync and SharePoint the Microsoft collaboration solution goes way beyond what is offered by Google.