Microsoft rebrands "confusing" Office Web Apps

20 Feb 2014
Office Online

Microsoft admits the cloud version of Office is hard to find

Microsoft has given Office Web Apps a makeover, rebranding the service as "Office Online" and making it easier to find.

The company launched Office Web Apps as a rival to Google Docs in 2009, offering lightweight versions of Word, Excel and other Office programmes online for free.

It's now admitted that describing the services as "apps" had confused users, since they couldn't actually be installed. Burying the service within Microsoft's cloud storage service - the newly renamed OneDrive - also hadn't helped takeup.

The company said "many" of its one billion Office users hadn't used the online version yet.

"We heard from customers that the inclusion of Apps in our name was confusing," said spokeswoman Amanda Lefebvre. "Are they something I install? Do I go to an app store to get them? No, to use them all you need is a web browser."

New website

Along with the new name, Microsoft has launched Office.com as a one-stop shop for its online suite. New users will still have to sign up for a Microsoft account to access Word or other programmes through Office.com, and any documents they create will be stored on OneDrive.

A new menu at the top of the page allows users to switch between different Microsoft web services, such as Outlook.com and OneDrive - though that still appears as SkyDrive.

According to Lefebvre, Microsoft has also added new document templates to the web version of Office, such as budgets, CVs and calendars.

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