Office Online

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Office Online
Microsoft Office 2013 logo and wordmark.svg
Word Web App screenshot.png
Screenshot of Word Online, as of November 2015
Type of site
Owner Microsoft
Created by Microsoft
Alexa rank Increase 66 (October, 2016)[1]
Commercial Freemium
Registration Mandatory for web mail and file sharing; optional for others
Launched June 7, 2010; 7 years ago (2010-06-07)[2]

Office Online (known before 2014 as Office Web Apps) is an online office suite offered by Microsoft, which allows users to create and edit files using lightweight, web browser-based versions of Microsoft Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The offering also includes, People, Calendar and OneDrive, all of which are accessible from a unified app switcher. Users can install the on-premises version of this service, called Office Web Apps Server, in private clouds in conjunction with SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Lync Server.[3]


Office Web Apps was first revealed on October 2008 at PDC 2008 in Los Angeles.[4] Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft business division, introduced Office Web Apps as lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that allow people to create, edit and collaborate on Office documents through a web browser. According to Capossela, Office Web Apps was to become available as a part of Office Live Workspace.[5] Office Web Apps was announced to be powered by AJAX as well as Silverlight; however, the latter is optional and its availability will only "enhance the user experience, resulting in sharper images and improved rendering." [6] Microsoft's Business Division President Stephen Elop stated during PDC 2008 that "a technology preview of Office Web Apps would become available later in 2008".[7] However, the Technical Preview of Office Web Apps was not released until 2009.

On July 13, 2009, Microsoft announced at its Worldwide Partners Conference 2009 in New Orleans that Microsoft Office 2010 reached its "Technical Preview" development milestone and features of Office Web Apps were demonstrated to the public for the first time.[8] Additionally, Microsoft announced that Office Web Apps would be available to users in three ways: via Windows Live for consumers (instead of the previously announced Office Live Workspace), or via Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft Online Services for business users. Office 2010 beta testers were not given access to Office Web Apps at this date, and it was announced that it would be available for testers during August 2009.[9] However, in August 2009, a Microsoft spokesperson stated that there had been a delay in the release of Office Web Apps Technical Preview and it would not be available by the end of August.[10]

Microsoft officially released the Technical Preview of Office Web Apps on September 17, 2009.[11] Office Web Apps was made available to selected testers via its OneDrive (at the time Skydrive) service. The final version of Office Web Apps was made available to the public via Windows Live Office on June 7, 2010.[2]

On October 22, 2012, Microsoft announced the release of new features including co-authoring, performance improvements and touch support.[12]

On November 6, 2013, Microsoft announced further new features including real-time co-authoring and an Auto-Save feature in Word (replacing the save button).[13][14][15]

In February 2014, Office Web Apps were re-branded Office Online and incorporated other Microsoft web services, including Calendar, OneDrive,, and People.[16] Microsoft had previously attempted to unify its online services suite (including services such as Microsoft Passport, Hotmail, Messenger, and later SkyDrive) under a brand known as Windows Live (patterned off its Xbox Live offerings), first launched in 2005. However, with the impending launch of Windows 8 and its increased use of cloud services, Microsoft dropped the Windows Live brand to emphasize that these services would now be built directly into Windows and not merely be a "bolted on" add-on. Critics had also criticized the Windows Live brand for having no clear vision, as it was being applied to an increasingly broad array of sometimes unrelated services.[17][18] At the same time, Windows Live Hotmail was re-launched as (sharing its name with the Microsoft Outlook personal information manager).[19]


Office Online can open and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Office Open XML formats on the web. Starting on July 2013, they can render PDF documents or convert them to Microsoft Word documents, although the formatting of the document may deviate from the original.[20] Since November 2013, the apps have supported real-time co-authoring and autosave Word files.[14][15]


Word Online lacks two ribbons that exist in Word 2013: References and Mailings. Mailing allows users to print envelopes and labels, and manage mail merge printing of Word documents. References contains features needed for more advanced documents e.g. table of contents, citations and bibliography, captions, index, and table of authorities.[21] Word Online cannot change the orientation of a document or insert section breaks.[21]

Office add-ins only work in the Word desktop app and are not available in Word Online.[22]

Other views available in the Word desktop app (Outline, Draft, Web Layout, and Full Screen Reading) are not available in Word Online. Likewise, the Navigation pane, side-by-side viewing, and split windows are not available in Word Online.[23]

Excel Online cannot execute macros.[24]


Supported web browsers include Internet Explorer 10 or later, the latest versions of Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, as well as Safari for OS X 10.8 or later.[25]

The Personal edition of Office Online is available to the general public free of charge with a Microsoft account through the website, which superseded SkyDrive (now OneDrive) and Office Live Workspace. Enterprise-managed versions are available through Office 365.[26] In February 2013, the ability to view and edit files on SkyDrive without signing in was added.[27] The service can also be installed privately in enterprise environments as a SharePoint app, or through Office Web Apps Server.[3] Microsoft also offers other web apps in the Office suite, such as the Outlook Web App (formerly Outlook Web Access),[28] Lync Web App (formerly Office Communicator Web Access),[29] and Project Web App (formerly Project Web Access).[30]


  1. ^ " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved October 11, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Finley, Klint (8 June 2010). "Microsoft Rolls Out Office Web Apps". ReadWrite Enterprise. SAY Media. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Introducing Office Web Apps Server". Office IT Pro Blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Chartier, David (28 October 2008). "Microsoft Office will float to the cloud with Office Web". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft to Extend Office to the Browser". News Center. Los Angeles: Microsoft. 28 October 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Perez, Sarah (10 November 2008). "Microsoft Office Web Applications: Your Burning Questions Answered". Channel 9. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Fried, Ina (28 October 2008). "Next version of Office heads to the browser". CNet News. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Microsoft Office 2010 Hits Major Milestone and Enters Technical Preview". News Center. Microsoft. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (13 July 2009). "Microsoft Office Web Apps: No test build until August". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Mary Jo Foley: No Microsoft Office Web Apps test build in August, after all 28 August 2009
  11. ^ "Microsoft Web Apps: Office Goes to the Web". News Center. Microsoft. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Shahine, Omar (2012-10-22). "Updated Office Web Apps on SkyDrive". Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  13. ^ "What’s new in the Word Web App?". 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-11-10. Where's the Save Button? There's no Save button because we're automatically saving your document (quote appears as a screenshot). 
  14. ^ a b "Get It Done Day and Office 365 help balance life’s demands". 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-11-10. Microsoft has updated Office Web Apps with two highly anticipated features — the introduction of Auto-Save in the Word Web App and real-time co-authoring, a feature that allows multiple people to contribute to and edit documents simultaneously in the Word Web App, PowerPoint Web App or Excel Web App. 
  15. ^ a b Lefebvre, Amanda (2013-11-06). "Collaboration just got easier: Real-time co-authoring now available in Office Web Apps". Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  16. ^ "Meet Office Online, Microsoft's slightly tweaked Office Web Apps replacement". PCWorld. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Stross, Randall (May 27, 2012). "Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)". The New York Times. New York Times. 
  18. ^ "Cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone: Windows Live, reimagined". Building Windows 8. Microsoft. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Jones, Chris (July 31, 2012). "Introducing - Modern Email for the Next Billion Mailboxes". Outlook Blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  20. ^ Zarzar, Dan (3 July 2013). "PDFs in the Word Web App". Office Web Apps blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Differences between using a workbook in the browser and in Excel - Office Support". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  25. ^ "Office Online browser support". Microsoft. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Moore, Jason (8 June 2010). "Office is now live on SkyDrive!". Inside Windows Live. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. 
  27. ^ Kenison, Roxanne (8 February 2013). "Sign-in no longer required to edit Office docs in SkyDrive". Office Web Apps blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "FAQs for Outlook Web App". Outlook Web App. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  29. ^ "Welcome to Microsoft Lync Web App". Microsoft Office website. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  30. ^ "Getting started with Project Web App". Project Server Help. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 

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