Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

Summary: Microsoft is finally doing what many have been clamoring for -- making Web-based versions of its Office apps available -- but in a different way than expected.


Microsoft is finally doing what many have been clamoring for -- making Web-based versions of its Office apps available -- but in a different way than expected.

As part of the Office 14 release wave, Microsoft is going to provide "Office Web applications," which it is describing as "lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. These versions will allow users to access their documents via a Web browser on the PC, phone or other devices.

Microsoft is slated to make the announcement about its Office Web applications plans at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles on October 28 during the morning keynote.

Office Web applications are not meant to be a replacement for the client version of Office. Microsoft still will deliver a traditional Office 14 client release for PCs. Office Web applications are more of an adjunct to Office 14 -- more along the lines of Office Live Workspace.

While Office Live Workspace, which is still in beta, allows users to collaborate and annotate Office documents, it's not really meant for heavy editing of documents. Beyond that, I'm vague on how Office Live Workspace and Office Web applications interact and/or compete. I also am somewhat fuzzy on exactly how these Office Web Applications work under the covers.

Microsoft is saying it will deliver Office Web applications "through Office Live." There will be both ad-funded and paid-subscription versions of these Web apps. For business users, Office Web applications will be sold as a hosted subscription service and through volume-licensing agreements. For consumers, Office Web Applications will be ad-funded and free.

There will be a private tech preview of Office Web applications starting later this year. Those interested in participating will be able to sign up for the preview  from the Office Live Workspace site.

Microsoft officials still won't talk about when Office 14 is due to ship. Until recently, many expected it to be released in the latter half of 2009. But I've been hearing recent scuttlebutt that 2010 might be a more realistic target.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • How is this different from expected?

    Quoting the comment:

    Microsoft is finally doing what many have been clamoring for ? making Web-based versions of its Office apps available ? but in a different way than expected.

    [End quote]

    Did anyone expect an attempt to make Office on the desktop obsolete?
    Anton Philidor
  • Wonder how well they work with Firefox :)

    If they don't (which I suspect is true) then it's just so much chaff as far as I'm concerned.
    terry flores
    • It's gonna be all SilverLight

      So it should be fine as long as Firefox doesn't mess with SilverLight.
      • Missing link

        [i]So it should be fine as long as Firefox doesn't mess with SilverLight. [/i]

        That rather depends on how it does its interaction with the local copy of MSOffice, though -- if that depends on MSIE, then you're not going to be using it with Firefox.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Big surprise there

        Obviously MS Office 14 will be another means to enforce MS lock in. Use Office and you must use IE and Windows even if you're using the "web" features.

        No thank you.
        • why some insist on FUD?

          if you really bother and go to channel 9 you will see that the microsoft team demoed the entire thing in firefox to prove that it is not IE only.

          please endanger Convenience once in a while to check out fact.
    • If you want a demo of Office 14 client and web here it is

      Not sure why Mary isn't putting links to these videos but here is an explanation of what Office 14 both desktop and web versions will do.

      Web version works in all browsers (they show it in Firefox).

      If you have Silverlight you getter a higher image resolution experience but it will work in the browser without Silverlight.

      It will also work on mobiles.

      Contray to Mary's assertions you can edit and manipulate documents in the browser version and have multiple people collaborating on the same document, client, web and mobile and everything is synched immediately.

      Have fun -
  • No other way to do it

    [i]Office Web applications are more of an adjunct to Office 14[/i]

    Not exactly a surprise. Microsoft's bread and butter is selling big-ticket software licenses. Any approach that doesn't require MSOffice would be insane.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • No for Linux

    Microsoft is really unfair to people who use Linux.
  • RE: No for Linux

    People who use Linux are really unfair to Microsoft!
    • lmao

      lmao so true...But at the same time, it's not cost-effective to develop for such a minority of PC users. Linux users, which are mostly geeks, won't really appreciate such an effort anyway since they hate MS.
    • lol

      You beat me to it! Was gonna post the exact same thing. Grrr!

      "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
  • Both Linux and Windows are unfair to everybody

    No fair to all and no fun for anybody. When will the XP migration from Vista stop? I need a vacation...LOL

    MS is leaving money on the table if they don't allow non-Windows OS users to enjoy the online Office. Seems kinda dumb to not want to spread their wings and make a good faith effort.

    Why would anyone need Silverlight to type a memo or add numbers in a spreadsheet. If they build it in Silverlight it will be the next coming of the "java office" and that one died a quick and well deserved death. Make Office online easy for people to use no matter what the platform and people will use it.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    As I say on my blog at the only thing which is surprising about this announcement - given the earlier leaks by Balmer and others - is how long you'll have to wait before you can get your hands on this. I'd thought it possible Microsoft would deliver this in a service pack for Office 2007. That Office 14 might not arrive until 2010 means you'll need to be very patient if you are looking to Microsoft to deliver your collaboration solution.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    They mentioned during the keynote that it will work in Firefox and Safari.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    Microsoft is getting very, very confusing with their various cloud initiatives, from storage to synchronization, remote desktop, and now remote apps; not mentionning the nightmarish nomenclature, Live this, Live that... It feels like the McCain campaign: throw the kitchen sink at the competition and hope that something will stick. Or is that what Azure is for?
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    Something that I have never asked for.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    I expect it to be inferior to what Google will be offering free. I am phasing out of Microsoft products for Open Source as Linux and others ramp up to fully productive apps. Most users do not need the bloatware nor do they use the excess features. The only reason to keep Microsoft is the intercorporate compatibility issue--and that's becomeing moot.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

    Geez, Office Web Components have been around since Office 2000. No, they aren't full blown application replacements, but they do demonstrate that Microsoft has been working on this longer than most would care to admit.

    I have yet to see a fully web based office suite even close to the power of a desktop based application. The limitations of google's spreadsheet make it seem a toy compared to a true spreadsheet application.

    When Google Docs can give me a database application with all of the ease of use, power, and flexibility of Microsoft Access as a RAD tool, then I'll switch.
  • RE: Microsoft to 'webify' Office (sort of)

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