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TECHNOLOGY Q&A

A Sky-High Solution

 

By J. Carlton Collins
October 2011

Q: I am scheduled to manage a large project with people located in several countries, and our goal is to produce a detailed Excel workbook and report. Accordingly, we will all need shared access to these documents for editing and review purposes. To further complicate matters, this group has a variety of electronic spreadsheet and word-processing tools loaded on their computers, and some group members have non-Windows operating systems. In this situation, can you recommend a good way for us to share common documents?

 

A: Microsoft offers a free solution called Windows Live SkyDrive, which enables everyone in your group to share Word and Excel (and other) documents. This solution also provides users with Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications (with limited functionality) so your group members can work in the same applications.

 

To use SkyDrive, sign up for a free Windows Live account at explore.live.com. Under the SkyDrive menu, select Get started and follow the instructions for setting up a Windows Live account. Once you have registered, sign in to your account and click the SkyDrive menu option at the top of the screen to view your SkyDrive (see screenshot below).

 

Next create a folder and upload (or create) the group’s Word and Excel files. Select the folder and, under the Share menu, select Edit permissions to send links to your group members, enabling them to access the data files.

 

Notes: The free version of Windows Live SkyDrive is limited to 25 gigabytes of storage, and individual files are limited to 50 megabytes. For a fee, you can increase these capacities. Installing Microsoft’s free Silverlight browser add-in will enable drag-and-drop functionality to and from your SkyDrive. Windows Live SkyDrive was introduced in August 2007 and is widely used.

 

Google offers a similar free solution called Google Docs, which is available at docs.google.com. The free version of Google Docs is limited to 1 GB of storage, and individual files are limited from 1 MB to 1 GB, depending on various factors. For a fee, you can increase these capacities. Portions of Google Docs were introduced in August 2005, and this solution was acquired by Google in 2006. Google Docs is also widely used, and an example of the Google Docs main page is shown below.

 

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