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Microsoft Launches Office Online

Microsoft announced the launch of Office Online a rebranded version of its online Office experience (Office.com, Office Web Apps). Office Online provides users with a free online version of its popular suite of productivity apps, which compete directly with services like Google Drive.

Microsoft’s Amanda Lefebvre explains the thinking behind the rebranding:

Today we are making two changes. First, we’re renaming Office Web Apps to Office Online so you know where to find our free online experience. We heard from customers that the inclusion of Apps in our name was confusing. Are they something I install? Do I go to an app store to get them? No, to use them all you need is a web browser. Ah! You say. So it’s like Office, online. Yes, exactly. Office Online.

Secondly, a lot of you don’t know that we have an online version of Office because you just couldn’t find it. If you’re already using Office Online on OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) or on SharePoint at work, great. We’re glad you found it there. You can still use Office Online just like you always have. But we’re making it easier to find for the rest of you by introducing Office.com, a discoverable and shareable web page so that you can start using Office Online right away.

The SkyDrive/OneDrive rebranding also launched this week.

Users can access online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote with a Microsoft account, which is available with any email address. Files will be automatically saved to OneDrive, and can be shared and collaborated on with others in real time.

The online versions of Microsoft’s software work with the desktop versions, so you can open documents on the desktop, and save edits online.

The offering also comes with hundreds of templates for Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online are also now included in an app switcher, which lets you switch from one service to the other without navigating out of the one your’e using.

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