Microsoft Office Online (Office Web Apps)

Microsoft's Web-Based, Free Programs for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac

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Online Software on Mobile Devices. (c) Xavier Arnau / E+ / Getty Images

Microsoft Office Online (formerly the Microsoft Office Web Apps) programs are free versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS X.

This is a very brief overview best suited for those who are very new to the idea of online software. Find more nitty-gritty detail in my Review of 40 Features in Microsoft Office Online.

Choosing Your Best Version of Microsoft Office

A Quick Word on 'Apps'

You are likely to hear about Microsoft Office apps in two different ways:

1. As a new type of add-in, that enhances the full-function versions of Microsoft Office. For more on this kind of app please check out Add-ins and Apps in Microsoft Office.

2. As a trimmed-down, free, stand-alone productivity program that has been known as an Office Web App, which you can find out more about in this article.

Microsoft Office Online

Think of Microsoft’s Office Online as a set of mini-programs that are portable because they function online or offline.

The idea is, you can do fundamental tasks on the go and then sync up with the full-function program later for projects needing rigorous editing.

Office Online programs are more simplified, streamlined versions of the full-function programs in Microsoft Office.

Available Office Online Programs and How to Try Them Out

Microsoft’s entire suite is not available in this web app form, but the most popular programs are.

Sign in with your Microsoft Account ID, which allows you to access OneDrive. You may already have this if you have used a Windows Live ID or other Microsoft product ID in the past.

You can also access Office Online through your Outlook.com webmail interface.

Download Microsoft Office Online

  • Microsoft’s Word Online
  • Microsoft’s Excel Online
  • Microsoft’s PowerPoint Online
  • Microsoft’s OneNote Online

Note that Outlook.com, is Microsoft’s browser-based email service (replacing hotmail and msn mail). 

Cost of Office Online and Office 365 Subscriptions

Microsoft’s Office Online programs are currently free.

What are not free are the upgraded cloud options most business users will want. This is where Understanding Office Suite Subscriptions (Office 365) comes in.

Office Versions Compatible with Microsoft Office Online

Users can open, read, and edit files authored in Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, Office 2008 for Mac, Office 2011 for Mac, and Office 2016 for Mac.

Alternatives to Office Online

Best Office Suite Software and Apps for iOS/iPad

Best Office Suite Software and Apps for Android

Best Office Suite Software and Apps for Windows

Best Office Suite Software and Apps for Mac

Questions? Please let me know, and best of luck as you try out this productivity option.