Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Microsoft Office Live Workspace

What is Office Live Workspace?

imageA lot of people are mobile these days. I am. I have my laptop with me most times so that when I want to fit in some work on my current novel or other documents I flip it open and go. But every once in a while I leave the laptop at home. The dilemma then becomes one of how do I fit some work in on those documents when the files are not accessible?

Enter Office Live Workspace.

Office Live Workspace is a free "access your documents anywhere" service from Microsoft. With the service you can store hundreds if not thousands of documents remotely, then access those same documents from any computer.

Technically, you don't have to have Office on your desktop, but the integration is quite slick, so I would recommend it. Also, the product is beta, so keep that in mind.

Installation & Setup

You get hooked up with Office Live Workspace by installing the Microsoft Office Live Add-in available via Windows Update as an optional update. I'll assume you can handle that part of the install since it really is just another update. Also, once you get into the service, you'll likely be prompted to install some updates. Go through the motions and let it install what it needs.

Now, either you already have a Live Id from previous apps you might have installed or used or you'll need to sign-up for a new one. If you've already got one, you can sign in from the Office Live Workspace home page: image

Otherwise, here's the step-by-step to get setup with Office Live Workspace.

1. Let's say you've fired up, say, Microsoft Word. Once the Office Live Workspace add-in has been installed you'll see the following dialog asking you to take the plunge with Office Live Workspace:

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2. If you click "Continue" you're brought to the following web site where you can sign up for the Workspace service.

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3. Type your email address and click "Next". You'll then see this:

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4. Go through the motions of filling in the form in order to set up your account. Good luck with the captcha—it took me more times than I care to admit to get it right.

Once you've filled out the form to their satisfaction and clicked "Finish", you'll get a confirmation of sorts:

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5. Go to your inbox and wait for the email to show up. When it does, click on the "Activate your workspace" link.

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I ran into some problems at this point. The service was fairly unresponsive (see above comment about this being beta ;-) ). I waited a bit, and finally got in:

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That's it. You're in. People familiar with SharePoint will see some commonalities here. Basically you've got a repository for storing documents and other files. You can upload files, create a new workspace for grouping files, or view shared documents if others have opened up their documents for you to see.

Save a document to Office Live Workspace

Uploading a document is easy. Let's do it through the web page first, then we'll look at how to save a document to the remote Workspace from within Word.

To upload a document to the Workspace over the web:

1. From your Workspace page, click on "Add Documents".

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2. Navigate to a file using the resulting Open dialog and select it.

3. You'll see a progress bar next to the title of your document as it uploads. The time it takes to upload your file depends on the size of the file.

4. Done. File has been uploaded:

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Now, if you're using Microsoft Word you can upload files directly from there.

1. First, sign-in using the account you created above.

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2. This is one of those times mentioned above where you'll need to install some updates. Click through until it's happy.

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Unfortunately, you will be asked to reboot. Once you've done that, open up Word again, select "Save to Office Live" again and sign-in.

3. A File Save dialog will pop-up. Double-click on the "Documents" folder (it doesn't look like a folder, but that's what it is) and click "Save".

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Give it a sec…

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That's it. Document saved.

Open a document from Office Live Workspace

Just like saving/uploading a document can be done from the web interface or through Microsoft Word, so can opening a file.

1. To open a file through the web interface, locate the "Edit" (leftmost) button.

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2. You'll be confronted with a warning about unsafe files:

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Click "OK"

3. Your document will open in Word or whatever program is assigned to open the file type you chose.

Now, to open a file stored on your Workspace through Word:

1. Select the "Open from Office Live" menu item. A File Open dialog will pop-up. Select your file.

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2. Click "Open" and your document will open in Word.

Make changes and save. You'll see the "Saving" dialog again as the document is saved off to the remote Workspace location.

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That's all there is to it. You've signed up for an Office Live Workspace account, uploaded a file to the service, opened it from the remote location, made changes, and saved it back.

Conclusion

I'm planning on using Office Live Workspace for those days when I don't have my laptop with me but where I also have some time to work on documents I typically only store there. I do have some concerns over security—I'm not going to store personal financial data out there. But as long as the service remains stable I think it will help me stay productive.

Further Reading

For more info and assistance visit the Office Live Workspace Community page.

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Comments (6) -

  • Gerald Brandt

    2/18/2009 4:49:09 AM | Reply

    Don't you have an issue with having your documents on a 'public' site?  Once the document is sitting on Microsoft's server (or Google's, or...), it's available to them for searching and archiving, or whatever.  I'm not comfortable with that, so I stay away from doing stuff like this.

  • scottmarlowe

    2/18/2009 6:28:08 AM | Reply

    That's a good point, but no, it doesn't really bother me. Like I said in the post, I'm not going to put highly sensitive financial information out there (like copies of my paycheck, for ex.), but as far as documents that I consider less sensitive... technically the files [i]should[/i] be secure. As secure as anything can be on such a site, anyway.

  • scottmarlowe

    2/18/2009 7:35:37 AM | Reply

    Gerald,

    OK, so you got me thinking about security. Given what this thread says about the lack of SSL (officeliveworkspacecommunity.com/.../4371.aspx), it [b]is[/b] possible for someone using a packet sniffer to intercept your unencrypted files as they are being transferred back and forth to your Workspace. Theoretically, they should be secure while stored in the Workspace, though.

    Since I'm specifically going to use the service to store Word docs, I went ahead and at least added a password via Word. It's always better to have multiple layers of security, anyway. I suspect the Office Live team will get onboard with SSL sooner rather than later least people stay away from the service.

    Once I had added the password and uploaded back to Live Workspace, I got this when I attempted to preview the document:

    [i]The document cannot be viewed in Web-page format. Click Save As to download the document to your desktop and open it in its original program.[/i]

    That provides some reassurance, I think.

  • Gerald Brandt

    2/19/2009 5:48:22 AM | Reply

    That does make me feel better.  I'm not up to date on the password feature of Word, does it also encrypt the data in the file?

  • scottmarlowe

    2/20/2009 3:59:46 AM | Reply

    Yes, Word (I'm talking specifically Word 2007 here, but the previous versions may have this as well) does in fact encrypt the contents of the file. Look for "Prepare" and "Encrypt Document" in the menus. You'll be prompted for a password and there you go. Word uses 128 bit encryption, which qualifies as "pretty darn secure" in my book.

    Read more here: howto.helpero.com/.../...d-2007-Documents_105.html

  • Simon Liebman

    4/13/2009 11:13:52 AM | Reply

    I've been using the workspaces for a while and the bigest issue I have is when I installed the add in for office 2007. I continually get the dialog box even if I have the "Do not show me this message again" box checked.

    I also am using it for non-sensitive handouts, pdf's and such and other documents for clients that are not private.

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