Microsoft today released a sneak peek of how Office Web Apps real-time co-authoring will work across Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Unfortunately, the company still doesn’t have a date for when this collaborative feature will be available, other than “in the coming months.”

The demo comes in the form of a 14-minute YouTube video (the juicy part starts around the 5:30 minute mark):

As is emphasized multiple times in the clip, this first look is at a pre-release version of Office experiences on the Web. You can see how real-time co-authoring will work not just for basic editing across Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, but also for formatting and adding various design elements as well as new capabilities previously only available on the desktop.

Real-time co-authoring gets rid of the need to hit the save button in order to populate changes made by others. The potential here is great: Microsoft is attempting to merge its Web and desktop offerings, while also including the ability to work offline (changes get incorporated the moment you come back online).

In May, Microsoft announced it was bringing real-time collaboration to Office Web Apps within the next 12 months. While this means the company has less than 11 months to get its act together, the demo above shows it has certainly made a lot of progress.

Yet Microsoft should have had this in consumers’ hands ages ago, and should be at the very least aiming to get it out before the end of the year. The competition isn’t waiting around: Google Docs has had real-time editing for multiple users for years.

For years now, Microsoft has been very slow on mobile, and has been harshly criticized for it. This doesn’t just apply to its Windows teams, but to software in general, including Office. As everyone becomes increasingly mobile, Microsoft really can’t afford to take its sweet time again and again.

See also – Microsoft: Office 365 passed 1m subscribers in just over 100 days, making it the best-selling Office yet and Hands on with Microsoft Office for iPhone, as the productivity suite finally comes to Apple’s smartphone

Top Image Credit: Getty Images