In what is something of a surprise – Microsoft have started sending out notices of an upgrade for Office 365. The update delivers new Office Web App capabilities such as co-authoring and much improved on screen rendering.

Up until now – these SharePoint capabilities have been limited to those utilizing beta versions of the next release of SkyDrive and Office 365. If this update is anything like previous Office 365 updates it will not be delivered to a customers simultaneously, but instead will be delivered on a rolling basis. We have found this update to Office 365 SharePoint is being referred to as SU4 (Service Update 4).

The email I sighted today contained the following (though the included link offers much more detail):

Office Web Apps update improves editing, collaboration and device support

We will soon deliver a service update of new features to SharePoint Online. Organizations on Office 365 will receive this update seamlessly. There is nothing you need to do administratively to prepare for this service update.
New features in Office Web Apps Using web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote you can view, edit, and work together on Office documents from nearly anywhere. And with the latest update, you’ll get more editing and formatting controls, co-authoring support across the web apps and expanded device support, including editing from tablets. Learn about the new features.
What to expect during the service update There are three things you may encounter during the planned maintenance period between 22 October 2012 and 26 October 2012. We will send another email 24-48 hours before the period begins as a reminder.

  1. There may be moments when administrative functions (such as granting permissions or creating new document libraries) will be temporarily disabled. These should be brief, but could last up to 30 minutes.
  2. New documents that are added to SharePoint between 22 October 2012 and 26 October 2012 won’t be indexed for searching during the maintenance period. Indexing will resume on 26 October 2012, and documents that were added during the maintenance period will be indexed at that time.
  3. SharePoint content will be read-only for up to 30 minutes. This will only happen once.

End of support for Internet Explorer 7 Internet Explorer 7 is not compatible with the updates to Office Web Apps. For the best user experience, Office 365 users should continue to use a modern web browser.