Microsoft Office Online receives major update and rebrand
Microsoft has rebranded Office Web Apps as Office Online as part of a major update for its suite of online productivity applications.
In a blog post written by Office Online product marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre, the company announced that the rebranded service will include a raft of new features that make it, “easier to find, share and collaborate with others”. This includes a new web portal, Office.com, where users can log in with their Microsoft accounts and immediately begin using programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
The new update also improves the services’ collaboration capabilities, allowing users to collaborate in real-time on documents and files, both online and through the desktop versions of the programs, with any files created automatically saved to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service.
The new website lays out all the online versions of Office in a tile formation showing which services are available, with an updated app bar at the top of the site allowing users to quickly and easily switch between programs.
The move appears to be an attempt to keep pace with Google’s popular Drive service, which provides a selection of services similar to those seen in the Microsoft Office collection, and is able to interact with mobile and tablet devices running the Android OS.
Microsoft says that the rebranding will help avoid the confusion that some customers found when using the service, with the ‘Apps’ aspect of the previous name leading users to question if it was something to be installed or found in an App Store. The company also believes that the new Office Online brand also simplifies what the service is all about, saying, “a lot of you don’t know that we have an online version of Office because you just couldn’t find it”.
The move is the second major announcement from Microsoft regarding its online services following the rebranding of its SkyDrive cloud storage platform to OneDrive following a court ruling with BSkyB. The company marked the news with a promotion that gave users the chance to increase this by up to 5GB by referring friends, as well as giving 100,000 people 100GB of free storage for one year.
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