Converting from Office Live Workspaces to Windows Live SkyDrive—What Happens?

Office Live Workspace is on its way out, and Windows Live SkyDrive is on its way in.  Workspace has been in beta all this time, and the new Office Live integrated with Windows Live SkyDrive is the first final release.  When it’s your turn to upgrade, you’ll see a notice when you log in to your workspace.  The upgrade doesn’t take long, but it introduces many changes  So what really happens when you upgrade?

  1. A new URL.  Instead of logging in at, you now log in directly at  Or, you can log in to any of the Live services, and click the Office tab to come to your new Office files.
  2. Dramatic UI changes.  Workspace needed some color changes, but I preferred its simple folder-based layout.  The new layout isn’t bad, but will take a little getting used to.
  3. Notes become Word documents.  There is no “note” document type, so they’re all converted to Word documents.  If you want the notes in OneNote, you’ll need to do that yourself after the conversion.
  4. Calendars become Excel files.  A new feature showed up in the last few weeks to export the calendar to Excel, and this is why.
  5. Your documents are not available on Workspace any more, but may still have access to other shared resources until they are upgraded by the owner.  Eventually, Workspace will go away.
  6. All of your sharing preferences transfer, but the people with whom you share documents will need Live accounts.  Invitations are not automatically sent.
  7. I’m unable to create a new OneNote document in converted folders, but I can create OneNote docs in new folders I create.  No idea why, but I’m asking.

After the upgrade, you can no longer use the Office Live Workspace plug-in in Word or Excel, which allows you to open and save documents from within Office without needing to log in to the website first.

Although the in-browser editing works in Firefox, the Open in Word does not–you can open a file directly in Word when using IE 8.  Once you’ve opened the document from Live, you can use the recent files list to reopen the document directly, which saves a little time not having to log in to the website.

Once the upgrade is done, all your documents are stored on SkyDrive, which allows for 25GB of storage, and you can edit your documents in a local copy of Office or the new Office 2010 Web Edition.

Office Live Workspace Upgrades Coming

Nate and I have made extensive use of Office Live Workspaces while writing our Azure book (in fact, it was a book on Office Live Workspaces for small businesses  I initially pitched to Packt–kind of glad they talked me out of it).  Workspaces was like a very lite version of SharePoint Services 2003.  With the latest release of Office 2010 Web edition, Workspaces are being upgraded and merged with Skydrive.  I got this bit of good news in today's email:

Within the next seven days, you'll have the opportunity to upgrade your Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta account to Windows Live SkyDrive. The service will remain free, and all of your documents and sharing permissions will be retained.

With your SkyDrive account you can:

1.    Access and share documents and photos from virtually anywhere.
2.    Take advantage of up to 25 GB of online storage.
3.    Use Microsoft Office Web Apps to view and edit documents within a supported Web browser.

When your upgrade is available and you sign in to your Office Live Workspace account, you will see the notification below. Simply click "Upgrade now" and your upgrade will begin.

Office Live Workspaces, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps 2010 Converge!

We're finally seeing the fruits of Microsoft's convergence strategy. I received the following email today, which is exciting news.  Even more so since the full Office 2010 can directly map to SkyDrive, too. I've used SkyDrive for a couple years now, and it's a great service, but a little dated in appearance and a little clunky compared to more modern UI.  Looking forward to a slicker and more attractive UI.  The UI for gives a lot of hope for Workspaces.

Good news!

Your Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta account is about to become even better. You already know it’s a great way to store and share documents, and soon it will come together with Windows Live SkyDrive to become a great way to view, create, and edit documents from virtually anywhere.

In the coming months, you’ll receive notification when your Office Live Workspace account will be upgraded, along with further details. Until then, there’s no need for you to do anything.

With your SkyDrive account, you’ll get 25 GB of online storage for sharing both documents and photos. Your SkyDrive account is designed to work smoothly with other Windows Live services like Hotmail and Messenger. And you’ll be able to view and edit documents from virtually anywhere using new Microsoft Office Web Apps.

First Look: and Office 2010

w00t!  Shiny new thing!  Microsoft’s Docs, integrated with Facebook, is still in beta, but the wrappers are starting to come off.  Docs is apparently part (or just is) Microsoft’s online version of Office 2010, due out later this summer.  Currently Docs has online versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint.  This is a cursory glance while I finish my morning caffeine.


Below is the ribbon for Word 2010 (click for larger view).  The first thing you’ll notice is that a tab for File has made a return, but it’s not the default selection when you start Word.


Here is the online Word ribbon, in IE 8 (click for a larger view).


And the online Word ribbon in Firefox 3.6 (click for a larger view).


The Office ribbon and the online ribbons are very similar.  There are fewer options available online, but the major formatting ones are right there.  Business users will find the lack of a table of contents, revision tracking, mail merge and template support limiting, but online Word is capable enough for a term paper or simple business correspondence.


Below is Excel 2010 (click for a larger view).  Again, a File tab has made a return, but pretty similar to Excel 2007.


Online Excel in IE8 (click for a larger view).


Online Excel in Firefox 3.6 (click for a larger view).


The online Excel has a very familiar spreadsheet interface, including multiple worksheet support.  The online version supports the basic functions of a spreadsheet, including formulas, but is lacking the analysis and more advanced features in Office 2010.  No indication yet if Docs will support sparklines in Excel, or if the online Excel can be used as a mini database like the spreadsheet in Google Docs can.

Do note that in the online version, in the lower right-hand corner, there is “1 person editing”.  Rumors have it that Docs supports collaborative editing, although neither Word nor PowerPoint displayed this indicator.  When I find someone else with a Docs invite, we’ll test that.


While PowerPoint itself doesn’t violate the Geneva Convention, some of the slide decks I’ve been forced to sit through are dubious in both their usefulness and adherence to humanitarian standards.  Soon, everyone can join the fun!  Managerial blasphemy aside, online PowerPoint is a pretty impressive piece of programming.

Here’s PowerPoint 2010 (click for a larger view).  File tab…blah blah…lots of features…blah blah…


Here is the online PowerPoint in IE 8:


And in Firefox 3.6:


Once again, just a basic feature set, hardcore business users may find the lack of animations and templates limiting (although the audiences may welcome the lack thereof).

All in all, the first glance is very positive, and I look forward to putting Docs through its paces in the future.

Resources for Exporting to Excel in ASP.NET without Excel

If you have to create Excel spreadsheets for your users, don’t use Excel on the server.  You will have problems.  Instead, use one of the alternatives below:

CarlosAg’s ExcelXmlWriter

I have gotten a lot of mileage out of this free library.  This generates Excel 2003 compatible XML Workbooks.  You have complete programmatic control over every attribute of every cell—you can set appearance, formatting, formulas, etc.  If you have a workbook template to start from, Carlos has a code generator tool that will reverse engineer your template into the classes you need.  I have made some very complicated multi page workbooks with this library.  It can take some effort if your workbook is very complicated, but the end results have been great.  Did I mention it’s free?


All of Office 2007 files are natively a new form of XML, which conforms to the OpenXML standard.  Excel’s implementation is called SpreadsheetML.  There is a new set of libraries to create Office 2007 documents called the Open XML SDK.  Download the free SDK and have a look at Brian Jones’ example for creating an Excel workbook with a chart.  Double bonus here—OpenOffice is also natively compatible with OpenXML.


Aspose makes commercial libraries for Office automation and so much more.  I have recently acquired their Total package for .NET, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it yet, but it is awesome.  If the free tools don’t get you where you need to go, look here.  Aspose is a supporter of the .NET community, which carries a lot of weight when I make purchasing decisions (in fact, I won this package at DevTeach via the Montreal .NET UG).

Farpoint Spread

Another commercial component.  I don’t have any experience with this library, but they advertise like crazy and support the .NET community, so they are worth checking out.

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