Microsoft Office Mobile: Hands-On With the Productivity Suite

After answering a phone call and sending text messages, though, it was torture figuring out how to return to the last document. I went back to Hotmail, and the document was no longer open. I went to the Office menu, yet the document did not appear. (I thought the iOS, despite its lack of multitasking, to be more intuitive than Windows Phone 7 for finding your previous place after an interruption.)

From a desktop Web browser, a OneNote notebook I started on the smartphone displayed everything but a voice recording.
My lesson was to remember to save a document the moment you open it. When you do that, you can be sure it will appear in the Office Hub even if you get interrupted right away.

And wait, how did I get to the point of e-mailing files to myself again? I stopped doing that when Writely, the Google Docs predecessor, launched more than 5 years ago.

I didn't realize that with Windows Phone 7 you can also access Office files from a browser at office.live.com. That worked swimmingly with even a long Word doc. But your guess is as good as mine as to why I received an error trying to download a small XLS file that was perfectly fine when I downloaded it to my desktop from SkyDrive.

OneNote

Microsoft is emphasizing OneNote, its handy note-taking program for those who get to know it. It's great for lists of things like to-do items, meeting notes, and grocery lists, and you can even add phone voice recordings and photos. Windows Phone 7-style Tiles organize your searchable notes, which are easy to find when you open Office Mobile.

When I added my voice recording and a picture to a grocery list, though, it was tricky to prevent the touchscreen from popping up and getting in the way of a full view of the note.

OneNote on Windows Phone 7 is handy once you get used to it, although it was tricky to swipe through in the case of a document loaded with pictures.
My OneNote notebook synced quickly from the phone to the Web via SkyDrive, appearing in My Documents in a Personal (Web) notebook. My 10-second voice recording in OneNote could not display online. For that, I'd have to use the desktop OneNote.

Word

Office Mobile appears be better for viewing documents created on a desktop than for working with a blank slate. Creating a Word or Excel document from scratch is no easy task on a tiny phone with a touchscreen keyboard. At the same time, you can at least get started writing, then e-mail the document to yourself for better access later at a desktop PC.

Typing in Word Mobile from scratch on the touchscreen, you can add bullets, colors, and shading.
The default icons on the bottom of Word could be more helpful: Outline, Comment, Find, and Edit. Clicking three dots opens sending and saving options. You'll see more formatting tools when you're working on the text.

Just as in Office for the desktop, contextual menus shift depending on what you're working on. For example, you're unable to work with a comment until you select a cell with a comment in it. This tends to drive me as crazy in Office Mobile as it does in Office 2010 for the desktop, but some users swear by it.

Excel

If you need to crunch numbers, Excel Mobile offers an impressive number of features, including 114 common functions. You can insert charts, apply filters, and do multilevel sorts. Once I got the hang of the contextual menus in Excel, it became more obvious how to finesse them.

Excel's interface offers three icons by default: Outline, Comment, and Find. The options expand to include options such as Sort, Apply Filter, Format Cell, Undo, Redo, Save, and Send.

Excel Mobile even lets you freeze frames, a handy way to jump through a long spreadsheet on a tiny screen. But I ran out of time trying to find that option.

I fumbled around starting a new Excel spreadsheet on the phone, and accidentally typed stuff starting on the 17th line.

Could I cut and paste it to the first line? No. Nor could I quickly find a way to delete all the blank lines above what I'd typed. From the phone, I e-mailed myself the failed, brief Excel spreadsheet. But when I opened it from the desktop, the document was blank.

PowerPoint

You can view, but not create, PowerPoint presentations with Windows Phone 7. Creating PowerPoint slides from scratch on a phone does seem like a rare need, and one that would be tricky to execute on a small screen. I can see how some users might want that option, however. Still, you can edit slideshows sent as e-mail attachments.

From Windows Live on the phone's browswer, I couldn't download an Excel spreadsheet saved to SkyDrive. On SkyDrive, however, it displayed the XLS file extension and appeared to be fine.
If you're at the airport while your team is in a big meeting at the office, the person running the PowerPoint presentation can send you an e-mail invitation.

Open that in real time, and you can watch the slideshow live. You can even dial into the meeting and listen in while watching the presentation on the phone.

Next page: E-mail, and how useful is Office Mobile?

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

Subscribe to the Daily Downloads Newsletter

Comments