Office.com is now the gateway to all Office Online apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more
On Feb. 20, Microsoft launched a new look and new tools for its free online suite of productivity apps. Here’s a quick tour.
Given the debacle of Windows 8, it seems that Microsoft is settling for small victories. Recently, it successfully relaunched SkyDrive as OneDrive (cue tepid applause), and its Web-based email system — Outlook.com — is celebrating its first birthday. And now, Microsoft’s Office Web Apps has matured into Office Online, offering users a new look and an easy-to-find central location for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and related apps at office.com.
It all starts at Microsoft’s office.com site
Launch office.com and you’ll find a new page with Metro/Modern application tiles for popular Office Online apps: Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. The page, shown in Figure 1, also includes tiles for Outlook.com, OneDrive, Calendar, and People.
To use Office Online, start by clicking the Sign in link in the upper-right corner of the Office Online window; then enter your Microsoft account credentials. From there, you can create new documents or work with files you’ve already stored in OneDrive.
Working with individual Office Online apps
Click Word Online, Excel Online, or PowerPoint Online, and you’ll be presented with three options (shown in Figure 2): New blank document, Browse templates, and Recent documents on OneDrive. Microsoft claims that the three apps include dozens of new templates for quickly creating common documents — calendars, reports, fliers, and more — saving users the hassle of starting from scratch.
Office Online offers more than a simple name change. Microsoft had already been beefing up the tools in its previously named Office Web Apps, and those changes are now rolled into Office Online. Formatting controls and options for headers, footers, and tables have been added to Word; PowerPoint includes new image-editing controls; and Excel gets new functional features such as drag-and-drop plus some higher-end data-analysis abilities.