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Microsoft is starting to frequently jump onto other operating systems with their products lately. First they brought Office onto the iPad after a long wait, and now they have put Office Online in the Chrome Web Store.

Right now, these Chrome extensions consist of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneDrive, and OneNote. So bad news so far to all Access and Publisher fans.

Just to be clear though – what this all amounts to are only bookmarks to Office Online, Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs. When you install these Chrome plugins, all you really get are nice shiny new bookmarks on your Chrome start page.

Each one leads to its online equivalent, but before you can use it, you need to sign in with a Microsoft account, or create a new one. But once you’ve signed in, it’s all free to use, and the functionality is amazing for something you would pay a lot of money to install as separate software.


The only way in which it really differs from Google Docs is that, while Google Docs provides the means for direct uploads of documents, Office Online only allows you to open Word documents via OneDrive. If you have a Microsoft account (Hotmail or Live), then you will automatically have a OneDrive account (previously known as Skydrive). So just upload your file to OneDrive then open it in Office Online. A slightly more convoluted method but it only really adds a couple more extra clicks to your process.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Microsoft’s version of Google Docs. Do you see it as a serious contender in the cloud document editing wars?

Source: 9to5 Google

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  1. Xoandre
    April 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I gave up on Microsoft Office when they completely changed the interface from my reliable assortment of customized button bars to the set-in-stone ribbon tab bars that take up 1/4th the screen space.

    I have used, for my PC and other app options in its place on my tablet, because those programs still use customizable button bars.

    Simply put, I prefer to take full control of my UI Environment in most of my programs. The latest MS Office products do not allow full control, so I have no interest in them, regardless of their "set standard" for being the top option of Office Software.

  2. PatrickO
    April 17, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Microsoft Office online is better than Google Docs. I get the feeling Google has been sitting on their laurels doing little development of Docs in the last few years. Luckily, I'm not locked in as the free Syncdocs plugin does all the conversion back to MS Office formats.

    The only downside is the limited space on OneDrive vs Google Drive.

  3. ReadandShare
    April 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Coming from behind -- as usual -- MS is "doing another Netscape". ..

    Remember what happened to IE once MS beat out Netscape? Five years of zero browser innovation followed! I hope both Google and MS will have tons of supporters. Competition is a very good thing. In any case, Google is no Netscape. I don't see either coming out a hands-down winner.

  4. Eric
    April 17, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Slick. And I'm one of those weirdos who likes The Ribbon. However, Word Online lags behind Google Docs in features (i.e. full-screen mode, equation editor). And Google Drive offers more than twice the free space of OneDrive. So unless Google Docs has a serious .docx formatting compatibility problem that I'm not aware of, I see no reason not to use it for word processing.

    OneNote on the other hand could be a real comer.

  5. sanjeev
    April 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    'The only way in which it really differs from Google Docs is that, while Google Docs provides the means for direct uploads of documents, Office Online only allows you to open Word documents via OneDrive.' Huh.. How do you upload files in google docs?? Dont' you use Google Drive for that? How is that different from Onedrive.

    • Mark O
      April 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Google Docs and Google Drive are essentially one and the same now. You go to one and you get the other. And the upload function is always there in the top left.

      With Office Online, you have to go to a separate site - OneDrive - and upload the files. THEN come back to Office Online, choose the file from the OneDrive list, and wait for it to open. As I said, a few more steps, but nothing to freak out about. :-)

    • sanjeev
      April 18, 2014 at 4:12 am

      May be we use Office Online different way and may be that is why i don't see the difference. Here is how i use Office Online:
      1) Login to Onedrive
      2) If i need to upload any document, i click on 'Upload'
      3) If i need to:
      a) Create Document: Click on Create > Word/Excel/Powerpoint/OneNote/Excel Survey/Plain Text Document
      b) View Document: Either i search for document or click on the document
      c) Edit Document: Either i search for document or open the document and click 'Edit in Word'/'Edit in Word Online' (for Word Document, same for excel/powerpoint/onenote docs)

      Of this all, the only difference i see between Microsoft and Google is, on Microsoft you have an extra option to open the document on your desktop installed Office Applications while you can't do that on Google since you can only edit it online (which onedrive provides too but need to click on 'Edit in Word Online') option.
      Hope that makes sense :)