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

There may be more Microsoft rebranding in the works, if new screen shots of 'Office Online' are what they appear to be.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.


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":


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


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:


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."

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