Excel 2013, Power Pivot and Power View on any device with Azure RemoteApp

By | June 30, 2014

I just found out about this great new Azure service that allows you to run any app on any device, including several default templates like Excel 2013 Pro plus. So my first thought was of course, cool lets try to run Excel on the IPad we have at home.

First what is Azure Azure RemoteApp, from the website:

Azure RemoteApp helps employees stay productive anywhere, and on a variety of devices – Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android. Your company’s applications run on Windows Server in the Azure cloud, where they’re easier to scale and update. Users can access their applications remotely from their Internet-connected laptop, tablet, or phone. While appearing to run on the users’ local device, the applications are centralized on Azure’s protected, reliable platform.

Azure RemoteApp combines Windows application experiences with the powerful capabilities of Remote Desktop Services on Microsoft Azure – the cloud for modern business.

So I applied for the preview on Azure last week and got  access today, it now shows up in my Azure portal:

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Clicking the link gives me the overview of my RemoteApp, of course I don’t have anything set up yet:

 

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So I create a new RemoteApp where I select the default template image. This image support Office 2013 Pro Plus out of the box (how convenient Smile). Of course you can also create your own templates but I won’t go into those details.

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After clicking Create it starts the creation process:

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and after some time it finished creation and provisioning. Now I can start configuring the app:

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When I chose remoteapp programs I will see what apps are installed by default:

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Excel is part of it. In the users part I could add additional users. In my case I just added me.

Now to use it you need install an additional application, I am getting started with my windows machine where I downloaded the add through the RemoteApp website:

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After it downloaded I need to set it up.  All I needed to do was log in with my Microsoft credentials. I now get a list of all my apps that I installed:

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After selecting Excel it starts loading Excel (takes a bit longer the first time starting the app on your machine):

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Now I have a version of Excel 2013 running on my machine without installing it (I signed into Office with my credentials as well):

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The only difference you notice is a different icon in the task bar:

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The version that is installed is Pro Plus:

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And best news is that the Excel contains all the add-ins:

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This means I can open any workbook that contains a model (this is the workbook used for my dashboarding book so it’s a not too shabby workbook):

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Interestingly enough the memory on machine didn’t grow at all, so it is loading it on the server:

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That also means you cannot open local documents and it is highly recommended to use things like OneDrive / Onedrive Pro or SharePoint

Now the cool thing is that it also supports running the same app on the IPad or any RT device. For IPad you just need to run the latest Remote desktop app. Here are some pictures running Excel on my daughters IPad, again opening the dashboard workbook:

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Clicking a slicer updates the numbers:

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Power View also works:

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Pretty cool right! It also works on OS X and Android, click here for more details.

  • How similar is the UI on the iPad? One frustrating aspect of slicers on an iPad is that you can not select more than one button at a time – is this a limitation with the azure remote app? Also pivot table filter dropboxes have been a problem in the past – are they still a problem?

    Thanks for the review

    • Kasper de Jonge

      the UI will be the same UI you see on windows, not sure if this answered your question though ..

      • Not really – for example, to select more than item in a slicer, one needs the control key – how is that emulated on the iPad?

        • Kasper de Jonge

          ah I get it, this will act the same as a normal remote desktop to a windows machine so Excel won’t behave any other way then it did for that. It is not a full blown Excel for Ipad.

  • Really need ms Access in remoteApp! And then be able to link Access to SQL Server!

  • You are saying that in Azure RemoteApp Excel contains all the add-ins. Any add-in, like a VSTO add.in ?

    • Kasper de Jonge

      You can install your own excel with any addin and use that to remote into. So yes.

      • Thank you very much for your answer Kasper. Now, from a pragmatic point of view, I want to ask you if it does make sense to use Azure RemoteApp as a surface for exposing on the web Office solutions developed with VSTO. If not, is there a better way to do that (apart from Apps for Office)?

  • Artie Roggeband

    Hi Kasper, Do you have an idea on installing and enabling PowerQuery in one of the Cloud versions of Excel, i.e. not a custom image with Excel and all other add-ins installed like PQry and PMap?

  • Thomas

    Looking at pricing on the web site, to me it reads that there is a minimum requirement of 20 users and to use a productivity application like MS Office, there is a minimum monthly fee of $15 ( = $300/month minimum).