Microsoft moves closer to launching free 'Office Online'

Microsoft moves closer to launching free 'Office Online'

Summary: Office Online, Microsoft's rebranded Office Web Apps, are inching closer toward launch.


Microsoft is moving closer to relaunching its Office Web Apps offering as "Office Online."


Check out the screen shot of Microsoft's "compare" page for its consumer Office offerings. (Thanks to's founder Yan Zhu for sharing the URL.)

Office Online is listed prominently as the free option, alongside Office 365 Home Premium (for $9.99 per month) and Office 365 University (for $79.99 for four years). Clicking on the "Learn More" button under Office Online currently takes the user to the Office Web Apps page.

Microsoft has offered Office Web Apps -- the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that work in a variety of browsers -- since 2010. Company officials have had problems explaining to normal users how to find and use these apps. Up until now, Microsoft has touted Office Web Apps more as a feature of SkyDrive, its cloud-storage offering soon to be rebranded OneDrive, and/or as an Office 365 feature.

From the chart above, it's clear Microsoft is going to try to make Office Online more discoverable and understandable by the general public. It also seems that Microsoft considers this Office Online rebranding part of Microsoft's next Office wave (codenamed Office 16), give that "O16" is part of the URL path for the new compare site.

In related news, LiveSide is reporting on a couple of new features that are likely to be part of OneDrive. According to LiveSide, co-owned folders will be part of the revamped Microsoft cloud-storage service. And Microsoft is planning to make some new "bonus referral" offers available to get more users across all platforms make use of OneDrive, LiveSide said. 

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Microsoft, Storage


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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  • Most Companies Want In-House

    In fact, every company I have worked for uses Private Cloud and prefers to keep company confidential documents in-house. I suspect public schools and consumers will use Office Online the most. However most money is made from enterprise licenses in private companies, and I don't see that changing much.
    Sean Foley
    • Office 365 /

      has been free for K12 schools for 4-5 years now, It also includes lync and exchange.
      • How do you access Office 365/ ?

        I have a nephew in HighSchool, I tried to find out if Office 365 University was available to High school students and Microsoft answered it was not.
        From what I am seeing, it looks as though Microsoft is transitioning toward University 365, but not for HighSchools ?
        • It is free if the high school has a volume agreement with MS

          We have a volume license agreement with Microsoft at our school district for Office Pro Plus. With that, Microsoft is giving Office 365 Pro Plus away to our students. Completely free. All we had to do was follow their instructions to get set up, and we were able to extend that offer to students within a week. Pretty sweet deal, considering they can download and install a full copy of Office 2013.
        • Apple has convinced many K-12 districts to go with iPads.

          Ironically, the K-12 schools I've seen use GoogleDocs with their iPads instead of iWorks. (Or Office 365, or Web Apps.)

          By the time kids get to college, and start doing real work though, the iPad cannot fill the bill (and Apple will not cut their prices enough to sell Macintosh computers to Higher Education) so Microsoft has a leg up. All those university faculty are using Windows for personal productivity and for instruction and they are doing research on central Linux systems.
          M Wagner
          • True

            Honestly, they have been sold a bill of goods (a big bill), not that iPads are bad devices, they're not. But, honestly the Surface RT (and similar devices) fit the mold perfectly. Sure they're not the best for gaming, but for input and for producing content they are very close to a laptop experience without the size.
          • I never know what this means

            Plenty of people do "real work" on iPads. The specialist (doctor) I am seeing does almost all his paperwork on his, including connecting to the local hospital system.

            A lot of people have the illusion that "work" == "Microsoft Office"; it doesn't. I use Microsoft products all day (Visual Studio) and yet could probably get by with any old document creator, for all the word processing I normally have to do.

            iPads excel at the kind of work they are suitable for - inventory, hospital rounds, product ordering, shipping & logistics, geological surveying... I also remember hearing about the police using the BlackBerry Playbook to connect to dispatch.

            No tablet is as good as a true PC for the "sit at desk, type into Microsoft Office" type of job, really. But the good news for tablets is that surprisingly fewer people than you think work at such jobs.
          • Real work without Microsoft

            I do real work without using any Microsoft product. Life can be so easy...
          • Real work without open source or Apple

            I do real and very productive work with Microsoft products. I also write code with MS products. I have found nothing that works as well and offers so much intergration and power out of the box. Why would I want to do work w/o Microsoft other than just to say I did it? I don't see the point.
          • Mac_PC_FenceSitter...about the numbers using a laptop or desktop

            All I can say is the city in which I live still uses desktops/laptops very heavily in it's largest enterprises. These companies and organizations are not full of people wandering around with tablets. The vast majority of the jobs are sit down, PC oriented in the offices. I'm not saying that can't/won't change but middle America is sitll fully entrenched in PC hardware and usage to do work. The largest company in the city is now using Google Mail (and most of anyone you talk to is regretting it and doesn't feel it compares at all to Outlook and Exchange) but still relies entirely on PCs for all information workers, which is everyone that is not doing manual labor and even then they have PCs as well.
    • Welcome To Commoditization

      Now office software is a commodity.
      Google's offering is $50 per year
      Apple's is free, I think? Maybe?
      Libre/OO.o is free, but no cloud, and I think might be missing the boat because it's still a desktop app, with no mobile and no cloud.

      Since I didn't look, what is M$'s business pricing for office online? Do you really need a desktop version?
      • Apple's is free-ish

        You probably need an iCloud account, and to use on the desktop you'll need Macs. They're a hardware company, though, so it makes sense that they're using software to sell hardware. Also, Google's offering of 50$ is equal to which one according to you?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Google Docs is free, Apps are $50 per year

        Google made it a commodity, MS is following suit.
        The $50 per year is for the equivalent of Office 365 E1, which costs volume customers about $7 a month, or $84 a year. It does not include rights to a version of Office that can be installed on your PC.
        Al S Cook-4ec56
      • It's tiered ...

        ... so for
        M Wagner
      • Check

        LibreOffice on RollApp is the cloud version of Libreoffice.
    • True for the large enterprise but there are lots of small businesses ...

      ... (
      M Wagner
    • agreed

      For privacy & security purposes, it's logical to have MS Office apps n data on premise yet accessible over the cloud. We use a solution called aikotech thinserver which does precisely that
    • iIMHO t's only a matter of time before all companies run hosted services

      Autodesk is an example of a company that uses all microsoft hosted services, from Exchange to Sharepoint, and also hosted services from other companies. They are not running a private cloud for their important business documents. They have thousands of employees in a dozen countries. it's insanely cool to be able to access stuff without having to use VPN.
  • I meet people all the time that still think they need an office program

    installed locally on a computer, they have no clue MS office is online for free, most also use a MS login.
    • Pardon my paranoia..

      I don't deal in financial or "intelligence" documents, but I'm da**ed if I am opening everything I write or put together to Micronasty to pick through for data and advertising. I have enough trouble keeping my desktops "hacker-free", I am not paying for a corporation to skim through my life daily.
      An Arizona Independent