Microsoft Office Web Apps to be renamed 'Office Online'?

Microsoft Office Web Apps to be renamed 'Office Online'?

Summary: There may be more Microsoft rebranding in the works, if new screen shots of 'Office Online' are what they appear to be.

SHARE:

On the heels of rebranding its "SkyDrive" cloud-storage service to "OneDrive," Microsoft may be poised to make some additional related branding and discoverability changes.

wordonline

Currently, consumers who want to use the free, Webified versions of Microsoft's core Office apps -- the suite known as "Office Web Apps" -- need to know to go to SkyDrive and click on the "Create" tab to find Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App. It's not intuitive by any stretch.

(And yes, I realize there are other ways to currently access and create Office Web Apps, especially for Office 365 subscribers. But I'm focusing in this post on consumers, primarily.)

Wouldn't it make sense to make Office Web Apps more easily discoverable from inside SkyDrive and Outlook.com than they are today? And while Microsoft is at it, why not rebrand them to better reflect what they really are, rather than sticking with the "Office Web Apps" moniker?

There's a pretty good chance this idle speculation is more than idle. Yan Zhu, founder of livesino.net, shared with me a few screen shots that make me wonder if this kind of repositioning is already in the works.

Microsoft may be on its way to rebranding Office Web Apps as Office Online, with the individual apps renamed to Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online.

The "Word Online" screenshot (embedded in this post above) is one of those shots from Zhu. Here's another, mentioning "Office Online":

officeonline

And another that indicates there could be some new Office Online templates coming:

officeonlinetemplates

Last week, Microsoft officials blogged a bit about some of the navigational changes coming to Office Web Apps. The original Microsoft post included information on changes the Softies were making to the headers in Outlook.com and SkyDrive that were designed to make it easier for users to find the Office Web Apps. For some reason, it seems that Microsoft has since removed that mention about changes coming to those headers from its January 23 blog post.

The new headers are supposedly going to look like this:

headers

Even though Microsoft removed that tidbit, these changes are still believed to be on their way and should the Office Online apps easier to discover.

Microsoft officials announced intentions back in 2007 to rebrand and reposition the company's Office Online site. These days, Office.com is both a place for Office subscribers to sign in, as well as a place for Microsoft to promote Office 365, locally installable Office client and server apps and a repository for templates and Office Store applications.

I personally prefer the Office Online branding to Office Web Apps. And anything Microsoft can do to make its free, browser-based Office apps easier to find and use would be welcome in my book.

I asked Microsoft officials for comment on whether an Office Web Apps rebranding and repositioning is in the works and was told, via a spokesperson, "we have nothing to share."

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft

About

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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

14 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Better.

    IMO, that brand is so much better than "Office Web Apps."

    KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) always is the best.
    -V-
    • Agreed

      much better branding, simpler, less of a mouthful. Add in easier accessability and it could persuade even more people to use it.
      wright_is
    • KISS me not

      Always? If that true, we'd all be using NotePad.
      paul613
  • Seems very likely & helpful

    I can see Outlook.com just becoming Outlook Online, from a branding perspective. I wonder if the naming for the Office apps in "Mod" (Metro/Windows Store) will have relational bearing to Office Online, like renaming the Mail App, Outlook.
    grayknight
  • Far Better IMOO

    Clean. Clear. Simple.

    We're not used to this from Microsoft's typical naming conventions.
    TheCyberKnight
    • I was thinking the same thing

      so that can only mean Microsoft will lose some trademark case in the next 12-18 months and be forced to rename it something else.

      ;)
      Emacho
  • Good timing

    if they're going to rename Skydrive, might as well rename the constituent web parts too. Office Online is much better.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • you mean

    Not OneWord, OneExcel, OnePoint, on OneDrive... of course then you'd have OneOneNote :-)
    greywolf7
    • My thoughts also

      Why not OneOffice like OneDrive? It would be more consistent with the re-naming of SkyDrive to OneDrive.

      If Microsoft is going to borrow from Ubuntu (Ubuntu One https://one.ubuntu.com/) they may as well go all out.
      WhoRUKiddin
  • "Easier to discover..." OMG...

    Microsoft, let me first say that your products are SOLID for the most part, but MJ just spoke the magic words. "Easier to discover..." "Easier to discover..." "Easier to discover..." "Easier to discover..."

    HEED those words, I can't tell you how many of my customers do not even realize that Office is even available beneath that Create button. They would not feel so stupid if things were easier to discover. I dare say, that is MS biggest challenge in many areas, is the lack of discoverability. When I first started using the Windows 8 beta, those words permeated my thinking.
    JimmyFal
    • Amen!

      I was intrigued by the idea of switching to Office 365 for our small company (we're on gDocs now) and signed up for a business account.

      It took me nearly an hour to figure out that I had to hit the Create button (in Skydrive?) to launch PowerPoint web app. No instructions, no tutorials. Nothing. Just endless clicking around until I finally stumbled on it.

      Needless to say, our company's subscription got canceled.

      I'm relieved to hear it wasn't just me who couldn't figure this out. But even happier to hear MS may be addressing this misstep.
      jburslem
      • That issue seems to be a problem across many

        Microsoft products lately and was a big enough problem with Windows 8 that Microsoft finally recently created a 20 page Windows 8.1 user guide:

        http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41652&WT
        WhoRUKiddin
  • Other Platforms

    Would be nice to have an Android app for Office available in Sky, er OneDrive. Currently unavailable, and disappointingly so.
    onefussyone
  • New Headers

    as of 3/13/14, the new header has already been incorporated in to Outlook.com. If you have already, a saved sky drive URL in your favorites or, on your start screen (as I have), click on the \/ and the same header comes up again.
    I don't think finding Office Web Apps can get any simpler!
    Crashin Chris