Office 2013, SkyDrive Integration Works Reliably for Casual, Pro Writers

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2013-03-19 Print this article Print

But the SkyDrive software keeps an eye on that folder and synchronizes it with the same documents and folders on your cloud storage space. When you save your document to a SkyDrive folder or subfolder, Office will upload document to the same relative place in the cloud storage.

This actually works with any software, not just Office. If I open my favorite text editor and save a file in the SkyDrive folder, that file, too, will be uploaded to the cloud area. But Office is totally SkyDrive-aware. In addition to defaulting to a SkyDrive location, Office has various icons and notifications throughout regarding SkyDrive. When I save a document, I see a little progress bar at the bottom appear as my document is being uploaded to the cloud servers.

SkyDrive supports collaboration, and Office is fully integrated with the collaboration feature. When you click the File menu, one of the tabs on the left is called "Share." From there you can invite people from your contact list (or just type an email address) to share the document and grant them various permissions, specifically Can Edit or Can View.

That person will then receive an email notification that the document that can be edited. The email includes a link to the document as it's stored in SkyDrive. Clicking on the link automatically opens up the online version of Office so your co-worker can edit the document. But to edit the document, that user must have a SkyDrive account and must be logged in to it. Otherwise the document opens in read-only mode. After the invitee logs in to SkyDrive, the document can be edited.

I used Word 2013 and SkyDrive to write this review. I opened the document both in my local copy of Word, as well as in the online version of Word. Thus I'm collaborating with myself. But it will work the same as if two different people were working on separate computers.

I'll call my desktop version Person 1 and the online version Person 2. When Person 2 opened the document, I received a notification in the lower-left side that the document was opened. Now as I type as Person 1, I see a dotted vertical line on the left of the paragraphs I've changed. This line goes away after I save it.

When Person 1 changes the document, unlike Google Docs, Person 2 doesn't know about the change right away. When Person 1 saves the document, Person 2 doesn't immediately see the change, but a "refresh" icon shows up next to the edited paragraph indicating that the paragraph was changed by somebody else and needs to be refreshed. The icon can't be clicked; instead, Person 2 must re-save the document to load the new changes. (Yes, that's a bit counterintuitive.) Meanwhile, at the bottom of the screen is the message "Updates available," which is referring to the document itself, not the software.

After doing so, the changed text is loaded and the document shows a green highlight indicating that the text has changed. The text only remains highlighted, however, until the next save. Remember, this isn't version control. It doesn't show a log of the changes over time, only the most recent changes. (However, that's not to say there isn't some limited version control. SkyDrive actually keeps 25 copies backed up, so you can go back and recover earlier versions of your documents.)


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