Microsoft snazzes up Office web apps with new Office Online portal

Web-based version of Office apps have been around for a long time—we wrote about the first Office Web Apps tech preview way back in September 2009. As of today, the app suite has a new name, Office Online, and a new home, the Office.com web portal. The portal offers easy access to web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and it also points to some of Microsoft’s other web services, like Outlook.com and the newly rebranded OneDrive cloud storage service.

To help new users settle in, Microsoft says it’s also added "hundreds of Word, PowerPoint and Excel templates." Opening an Office Online app brings up a modal "Let’s get started" prompt with options to create a blank document, look through templates, or open files located on your OneDrive cloud storage. There are templates for "[b]udgets, resumes, calendars and more," and Microsoft says all templates are available free of charge.

Naturally, Office Online apps also have dynamic sharing and collaboration features built in. Microsoft says it’s even possible for users running web and desktop versions of a given Office app to collaborate on the same document in real time. You can find out more in this blog post, which was posted in November when the new collaboration features debuted.

I’ve been a loyal Google Documents Drive user for the past few years, mainly because I haven’t found the alternatives to be nearly as convenient or as readily accessible. Office Online looks good, though. I haven’t had time to kick in the tires yet, but I’m already liking the ease of access, the slick user interfaces, the OneDrive integration, and the compatibility with desktop Office apps, which I use daily. I’m definitely tempted to lay off Google Drive, at least for a while.

Comments closed
    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 6 years ago

    The more MS dilutes it’s Office/Windows lock-in, the less people will care to continue using windows.

    Yeah, mobile and online versions of Office are good for the user, but overall it’s going to kill their lock-in sales, and eventually make using windows irrelevant. That’s fine with me, plus the ripoff pricing models will still drive users to cheaper/free alternatives. Win/Win for us, Lose/Lose for MS. The dinosaur is going extinct.

    Edit:
    There’s always a catch with cloud computing, and getting your first dose of heroin free doesn’t necessarily mean the second will be. Plus, with all the NSA spying, corporate advertising/spyware, and random hackers, how much should we really trust cloud services? Best to tread lightly, IMO.

    • dashbarron
    • 6 years ago

    As someone who isn’t even a large power-user of M$ products, and while I haven’t tried this, I really enjoy Sky…er…One Drive and OneNote.

    SkyDrive is really slick for accessing important files on the go (WP8), and I have an added level of comfort because files that I really need to have a backup copy are being backed up without constant fuss on my part. This isn’t a good backup solution, but it sure is great for the every-day man.

    And OneNote is great. I always found EverNote to be either too featureless, slightly annoying, or both. OneNote works well on the desktop, is pretty slick (albeit clunky if the browser/computer aren’t up to snuff) online, and the mobile version is easy and works well. My only general issue with OneNote on WP8 is the lack of access to password protected sections.

    If they actually stick with this strategy and don’t dump it 6 times, they could have a very well integrated mobile platform.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 6 years ago

    Just waiting for no more standalone versions of Office and you can only buy it as a monthly service–I think that’s next and I don’t welcome it. So hoping that LibreOffice evolves faster and better to become a more robust alternative.

    • Zizy
    • 6 years ago

    Beh.
    I wasn’t that disappointed when I tried Google Drive. Sure it is crappier in every way, but I expected it to be crappy. I hoped Office Online can open everything and limits just editing. Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for.

    • RtFusion
    • 6 years ago

    Tried a opening a few documents I had on my OneDrive. It is incredibly seamless. Although, knowing that these are Online/Web versions of their local desktop counterparts, there would be some limitations.

    I had password encrypted workbook and Excel Online prompted me to open in my local Excel. It didn’t crash on me which was something I was expecting.

    But all the apps worked fine in Chrome. I was very impressed by the integration of these apps with OneDrive and at the same time, the same documents you made can be opened with your local Office applications.

    I think this is great for students who don’t have access to full Office suites or those who don’t need a full blown Office suite.

    Also great for when you want to access your documents from a machine that doesn’t have Office installed locally.

    If you documents has more complex formatting/setup, the web versions may not be able to open them.

    But for this level of functionality and integration; still can’t believe this is actually free.

    I am VERY impressed.

    • albundy
    • 6 years ago

    You forgot to mention that all the apps are FREE! This is great for students and those that cant afford office! There are some menu tabs missing, like the MAILINGS in word which lets you work with envelopes and labels. And you cant use any addons in word, like microsoft math which is also free.

    • sweatshopking
    • 6 years ago

    All you whiners can stick with google docs. Enjoy it.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 6 years ago

      Look, you are not going to be CEO no matter how gung-ho you are about MS or how much you diss their competitors. Buy the stocks and enjoy the catering at the holders’ meetings and just be happy.

        • sweatshopking
        • 6 years ago

        hahahha. I can’t afford stock.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 6 years ago

          MSFT is ~$37/share right now.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            And? I think you’re overestimating how much money I make at work. I got 9 hours this week. Down from 40 a month ago.

            • albundy
            • 6 years ago

            geez, what’s the sweatshop paying you in? buttons and pessos?

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            Lotion and soap.

            • Grigory
            • 6 years ago

            Are you even still the sweatshopking? Or have you been demoted to sweatshopviscount?

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            I have a guy act the king in absentia. When I return, on that gallant day, standards blowing in the wind, women fawning, I’ll take back my throne and force my slaves to work double shifts! It’ll be sweet! Cheaper goods for all!!

    • bittermann
    • 6 years ago

    The best they can come up with is medium and giant square icons…I’m beginning to loath Metro.

      • bthylafh
      • 6 years ago

      It’s not that it’s the best, it’s that they have to match the corporate theme [i<]du jour[/i<].

      • NotParker
      • 6 years ago

      Do you have to learn new keystroke combinations and gestures as well as promising to not use a mouse so the experience is as crappy as Windows 8?

    • Sargent Duck
    • 6 years ago

    Been using the office web off and on for the past couple of years (just small stuff). I don’t expect to do anything heavy, but it fits my needs for the small stuff and I haven’t had any complaints.

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