The Office 2010 announcement a couple of weeks ago, (publicly) lifted the lid on the Office Web Applications, either as a set of web-based Office apps that a customer could host on their own metal (and expose to the outside world, perhaps), or as something that you’d be able to get online from others. Microsoft’s own “Office Live” workspaces will use Office WebApps, for example.

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It’s easy to think that moving to an online-based set of productivity applications would be an either/or decision – like today, you could choose to do either Office (as a client side set of apps) OR Google docs (as an online variant).

Maybe Office WebApps will blur that distinction a good bit. As an illustration, I was in an interesting talk last week, where the speaker asked:

Who in here uses Outlook Web Access?

(everyone’s hand goes up – well it was a Microsoft audience, so no surprises there)

OK, who now uses Outlook *less* because they also use OWA?

Literally, not a single hand went up.

So, for business use, you could think of Office WebApps as a way of interacting with the same documents, the same data, that you would if you were inside your company and using Office applications on a PC, but instead you’re at home or you’re at someone else’s machine, or maybe you just want to share your document with someone from outside the company. WebApps are promised with every version of Office, too, as is OneNote – finally making OneNote available to everyone, not just Professional or Student users.

More info on the Office Web Applications blog.