Microsoft Inspire 2022: Introducing Excel Live – TechRepublic | Hot Mobile Press

Microsoft embeds Excel in Teams, accelerating collaboration around spreadsheets and data.

Image: Microsoft

One of the more interesting technologies being introduced by Microsoft is a new platform for building collaborative apps, the Fluid Framework. It allows users to collaborate on documents in real-time by using document containers to embed collaborative content and applications in web pages and web views. After a few years of development and a handful of testing apps, we’re now seeing it ship in various Office products.

Fluid Framework powers the Loop components that appear in Outlook and the Live Share application tools in Teams. This allows applications to share state and manage incoming updates, so there is a common view of a document that is updated as changes occur, and without having to implement complex locking to avoid problems. Because it is based on web technologies, Fluid is intended for hosted browser content or apps that run in the browser.

Embed applications and work in teams

Excel live collaboration graph
Excel Live is part of the ways to collaborate in Teams. Image: Microsoft

If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you can get a feel for how Fluid works by using the Loop components in the web version of Outlook, which can be edited by anyone who has an email with embedded in the message elements received. However, where Fluid really shines is in Teams, which transforms it from a place for meetings and chats into a collaboration host, sharing applications and views with colleagues and allowing them to interact with your content. Because Teams is built on web technologies, Fluid is easy to integrate and use in many different applications.

The first embedded Teams Office application was PowerPoint Live, a presentation method that allows for more interaction. However, it’s still a one-to-many tool, with improvements in how you can switch from presenter to presenter and a reaction-based live chat alongside the presentation for dynamic feedback. Accessed from a meeting’s share drop-down menu, it’s easy to use and far more effective than hit-and-miss screen sharing.

Microsoft takes it a step further by announcing Excel Live in Satya Nadella’s keynote at its Inspire 2022 event. It’s a feature that will revolutionize the way we work in teams and how we use documents in meetings.

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Using Excel Live

Until now, the best way to collaborate with Excel spreadsheets has been to save the file to OneDrive, open it on each employee’s desktop, and share their screen with key stakeholders via Teams. Changes were slow to make and conflicts arose very easily as the lead had to roll back changes and guide the team to make agreed fixes. For productivity software, it wasn’t very productive.

Excel Live aims to change that, like PowerPoint Live, by integrating Excel into the Teams environment and using Fluid to connect each user’s instance of their sheet. While there is a hefty software infrastructure under the hood, it is very easy for users to use.

If you’re in a meeting and want to share a spreadsheet to edit formulas or enter preliminary numbers, you can quickly open an Excel workbook using the same sharing tool as PowerPoint Live. Scroll down and you’ll get a list of recent workbooks that you can share. Open the one you want to use and you’ll be prompted to share it with your meeting. This will open the workbook in the Teams meeting with everyone’s video still visible and the shared spreadsheet visible to everyone.

Because Excel Live is rendered using the same technology that runs Excel Online, users don’t need to have a copy. So as long as you can run Teams, you can edit a spreadsheet. If you’re using Excel on the web, you can use it to start an Excel Live session from a spreadsheet by choosing Collaborate in Teams from Excel’s Share menu. This will open a Teams meeting that you can invite participants to while the spreadsheet is open and ready to edit.

This is a useful feature that builds on the ad hoc collaboration features in Teams. You may not always have an agenda or plan for a meeting, only to realize that the numbers you need aren’t up-to-date, or that you need a subject matter expert when you design a new set of calculations and want to get the job done for you .

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When can you use Excel Live?

Excel Live will launch in preview towards the end of August 2022 and users will need to ensure their Teams tenants are enrolled in the preview program. In the Teams admin center, set a policy to either follow users’ Office preview settings or allow everyone to access Teams preview. Users who have signed up for the Office Preview program automatically get access to Excel Live at launch once they set up Teams to support previews, while other users must request access to previews in their Teams app settings.

It’s not clear when Excel Live will be generally available, but the preview should help users prepare for how it can help teams collaborate on documents. It’s a good idea to start with a small trial first and expand access to the preview as you learn how it can help organizations and how it works in a mix of enterprise and consumer networks.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his Inspire keynote, “We need to be great at synchronous, asynchronous, face-to-face and remote collaboration. In a previous era you could get away with one or two of those quadrants, but now all four quadrants have to be excellent at all times for work to get done and collaboration to happen.” From both the build announcements and these new features goes pointed out that Microsoft sees it as a place to host more than just snippets of work driven by bots. Excel Live lets you collaborate on spreadsheets in ways not supported in the desktop app, accommodating meetings in the office with big screens as well as home workers on their laptops.

Nadella’s conclusion from his keynote summarizes what the introduction of Excel Live means for businesses and users. “If Teams is where we work, we want to access everything right in the workflow and give back our scarcest resource, our time.”

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