Microsoft rolls out free Web version of Office

Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:40 a.m.

McClatchy-Tribune News | In a leap toward cloud computing Tuesday,
Microsoft started rolling out Office Web Apps, a free online version of
Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Users can create, review and collaborate on Word documents,
spreadsheets, slide shows and notes without purchasing the software. The
applications run through a Web browser, which makes it accessible from
any computer, be it a Mac or a PC, with or without installed Office

Launching a free version of Office is a major step for Microsoft.

The Office suite has been a cash cow, generating $19 billion in revenue in the past fiscal year. But the growing popularity of competing Web-based software, including Google Docs, has prompted Microsoft to answer.

Microsoft declined to make anyone available Tuesday to comment on Office Web Apps.

The Web-based versions reflect Microsoft’s vision of cloud computing, in which software and data are stored online, rather than in a computer, and accessed with devices such as a tablet, mobile phone or computer.

“It will be a convenience for people,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst for Directions on Microsoft, an independent research firm in Kirkland. “It’s really meant to be used in conjunction with services like Hotmail. It’s not going to be something you use to create a lot of documents.”

The company is rolling out a new version of Hotmail that prominently features Office Web Apps over the next few weeks in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland.

Office Web Apps, available at, has fewer features than Microsoft Office, the pay version installed on computers.

For instance, free Word does not have all the reviewing and commenting features found in pay Word.

The Web version of PowerPoint cannot embed video or have all the animated transitions between slides that regular PowerPoint has, Rosoff said.

The service is run through Microsoft’s free online storage site Windows Live SkyDrive, where users can store up to 25 gigabytes of documents free. Documents stored on a PC can also be uploaded to SkyDrive and shared for editing.

Microsoft began selling a new pay version, Office 2010, to businesses in April. The consumer version, marketed to home users and small businesses, will begin selling Tuesday.

The new Office Web Apps are compatible with older versions of Office as well.

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  1. Scooter4Ever June 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Tried it. Don’t like it. Will stick with Google docs.

  2. PowWowTheIndianBoy June 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Yeah, this sounds like a great idea! Use their online software and they’ll have a copy of all of your work. Free data-mining at its best!