Microsoft Garage raised a curtain on its newest offering this week. Project Lively is an Office add-in that promotes team collaboration by automatically refreshing files when they are updated. The company says the service combines online storage and documents.
The most interesting thing about Project Lively is its ability to make collaborations seamless. It is in some ways like the existing real-time co-authoring ability currently in Office. However, there is a clear and very important distinction. Project Lively allows sharing of files and updated files out of real-time.
It is also its own platform and does not use Microsoft’s other file sharing services, such as OneDrive. It allows users to store files when they like, email and share Office documents, and post them online. Teams can access these files whenever they want and update them. Updated files are synced and will be updated for everyone.
“We wanted an easy way for users to collaborate without a lot of extra complexity,” the team — Rorke Haining, Sriram Iyer, Bryan Jeffries, Lawrence Landauer and Mike Paer — wrote in a description of the software. “During the hackathon, we were able to create a simple Office add-in that accomplished our goal; however, we want to release as a Garage project to gather more feedback that will hopefully shape some of the sharing and collaboration features in Office.”
Lively is an Office add-in that is compatible with desktop versions of Word 2016 for Mac and Windows, as well as Word Online.
Users can customize the abilities of Project Lively. For example, there is a choice of whether files will refresh for all users once they have been edited. Also, changes ca be set to only save at specific periods.
Microsoft uses an encrypted copy of a file that is stored in Azure public cloud. This is an additional copy of the one that will be stored normally on a PC. The file is shared in the public cloud and is accessible to anyone given permission.
Project Lively Features
It is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. Indeed, this is one Microsoft Garage application that we could see being widely adopted. As you may know, the side-works division allows teams to collaborate on solutions that are considered side projects.
These are experimental apps that do not always last. Many do however, and some become popular. Project Lively is one that we think has huge potential. Microsoft Garage details why this add-in is so useful:
- Forgot to mail yourself the latest version of a document from one machine to another? No problem! Open any copy of a document with Project Lively anywhere and you’ll always have the latest version.
- Hit send too soon before making some critical corrections in your document? Rest assured, your coworker will have the latest changes as soon as he or she opens a document with Project Lively.
- Want to collaborate with a coworker on an Office document quickly, without having to set up a file share or configure anything? Just email them your document with Project Lively and the two of you can both edit the latest version together.
- Worried about losing files because you never bothered to set up a backup solution? Your Project Lively documents are always automatically backed up to the cloud.
You can find the add-in on the Office Store here.