What's the hifference between Office 365 excel web offering and Excel Web App?


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Mar 22, 2011
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Hi Ken. I never got around to testing Office 365 when you had a test site up and running (had some problems signing in, and then gave up. I'm easily frustrated!) But now I have a quick question regarding it that you or other readers might be able to answer.

Do the web-based excel files on office 365 offer you anything much more than a humble (and free) Excel web app? Or are they essentially one and the same? Or am I way off the mark?

Reason I ask is that I have a client who currently has a whole bunch of excel models he distributes to end users that have considerable file size due to very poor construction and unnecessarily repeated information. (The 120MB filesize of one such spreadsheet is entirely due to the fact that just 10MB of raw data is repeated in its entirety many times throughout the spreadsheet, with the help of thousands of VLOOKUP formulas, many intermediate pivot tables – and their associated caches - etc.)

Given this file is really just a database, I also started wondering whether Excel is the way to go. So I’m investigating a few other that might suit this a heck of a lot better as well as better facilitate his end goal of providing secure data to subscribers. One of these options is using MS Access, or a combination of an Access back end, and an Excel front end…possibly with the Access database hosted on a web server, with Excel passing specific user requests to it via an ASP web query…something I’m learning from Daniel Ferry’s Excel Hero Academy.

But another is using a cloud offering such as Office 365. However, if Office 365 doesn’t really offer any more in terms of a web app than Excel Web Apps, then I’ll just go with Excel Web Apps. While they don’t support macros, I’m pretty sure that a cleverly designed interface using pivot tables will be just fine. And I believe they can be locked down so that just specific users have access privileges.
Hi Jeffrey...

I compared both Excel Web App on Office365 and SkyDrive, they differ concerning the available options.

The Excel Web App on Skydrive has an additional ribbon menue "View" allowing to choose whether you are in editing mode or reading mode. In the 'Home' ribbon entry you'll find an entry for sharing the document (Embed to website or give some permissions to other for use the doc). The 'AutoSum' entry is missing in the Excel Web App on Office365. The other functions in the 'Home' menu do not differ (see screenshot below, on the top Office365, unformtunately I was not able to change my language from German to English on the fly)

However, if I have not overseen it, when clicking on f(x) in the Skydrive App, you'll get a dialogue with the available functions, like in 'normal Excel'. This is not the case in Excel Web App on Office365, why ever(?).

On both app, there is a ribbon entry 'Insert' for adding elements. However, as I just discovered myself now, in the Excel App from Office365, there are no entries for adding charts to the sheet. In Excel Web App on Skydrive this is possible (Column charts, Line, Pie, Bar, Area. Scatter and others). Also the f(x) Dialogue can be reached from there in the Skydrive version. The entries in the file menue also differs, as you can see in the second screen below.

I have not tested, if the formula features are different in both versions and I have not tested what happens when uploading a sheet on both versions.

All in all, I am thinking MS is working with different versions of the Excel WebApps on their servers. I am not sure, but I think to remember the version on Office365 corresponds to a previous version of the one on Skydrive.

Please also check out this document about the difference between Excel 2010 and the WebApps.


Hope this helps :)

Regards :)


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Hi Jeffrey,

Honestly, Mourad got a lot further than I did with it. Microsoft's end game with development/deployment on the web platform is that workbooks will be developed in the client, and they're trying to add the fidelity on the consumption in the browser. They've got work to do there though.

From my understanding, Office 365 is intended to grow into a full Office Sharepoint delivery for charge, while the SkyDrive offering would be much more stripped down. I don't believe that Office 365 is there yet though, but can't say for sure as my experience with 365 was pretty limited and Sharepoint is non-existant... :(