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Ten Online Collaboration Tools that Let You Work with Anyone Anywhere in the World

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Business technology author Patrice-Anne Rutledge describes ten online collaboration tools that let you work with anyone anywhere. Whether you want to share files, hold online meetings, run a private social network, create a team wiki, or collaborate on projects and digital media, there's an easy-to-use online collaboration solution to meet your needs.

The world is becoming more global—and more virtual. There's no longer a guarantee that the people you work with are in the same office as you are, or even on the same continent. When you're in San Francisco and your team is in Seattle, Stockholm, and Shanghai, you need collaboration tools that work around the clock and around the globe.

Fortunately, today's technology enables you to collaborate with anyone anywhere in the world, often as easily as if your colleagues were right there in the office with you. Whether you need to collaborate real-time (synchronously) or have team members work on the same project during their own work day (asynchronously), there is an abundance of potential solutions to choose from. The challenge, in fact, is that there are so many options it can be difficult to select just the right tools for your needs. In this article, I cover ten great online collaboration tools that offer extensive, innovative features—most at varying price points, suited to every budget.

1. Windows Live SkyDrive (Online Collaboration and File-Sharing)

Windows Live SkyDrive is Microsoft's answer to online collaboration and file-sharing, offering 25 GB of free online storage per user. You can access this web-based tool from anywhere using a Windows Live ID, which you might already have if you use an application such as Hotmail or Messenger. If not, you can sign up for a free ID in minutes.

On SkyDrive, you can

  • Store, share, and collaborate on documents, photos, and videos, including Microsoft Office documents.
  • Password-protect your files and choose who you want to share with—including individuals and groups.
  • Set user file permissions such as view-only or add, edit, and delete.
  • Track versions to keep a record of everyone's changes on collaborative documents.

If you use Microsoft Office, you'll appreciate that SkyDrive integrates with Microsoft Office Web Apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, enabling you to access basic Office functionality online, even if you don't have Office installed on the computer you're using. If you have Microsoft Office 2010, you can use the new co-authoring feature that lets you work in real-time in Word and PowerPoint.

Figure 1 shows an example of the Microsoft PowerPoint Web App in SkyDrive.

Figure 1 Use SkyDrive and Microsoft Office Web Apps to access your Office documents on the go.

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