Microsoft to rebrand its Office Web Apps suite to 'Office Online' and improve app visibility

Microsoft has already unveiled the new name for SkyDrive – OneDrive. This rebranded cloud storage solution will continue to co-exist alongside the suite of Office Web Apps available for consumers to utilise without firing up local installations. The Office Web Apps as they're currently known is a selection of free tools for consumers to use within the web browser. Unfortunately, for the time being, it can prove to be confusing to get started with Office through SkyDrive.

According to and The Verge, Microsoft may be looking to both rebrand and improve discoverability of its Office Web Apps.

How Microsoft currently has its Officie Web Apps set up requires you to go through SkyDrive to access the likes of Word, Access, OneNote and PowerPoint. To create new documents with each app, you need to hit "create" and then select which app you'd like to use. With this create menu, not only are you able to form new folders for your SkyDrive (OneDrive) to keep everything neat and organised, there are also some bonus options (you may have not been aware of):

  • Word document
  • Excel workbook
  • PowerPoint presentation
  • OneNote notebook
  • Excel survey
  • Plain text document

Microsoft Web apps

Yan Zhu from has shared a few screenshots with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, which show the possibility of Microsoft rebranding its Office Web Apps as Office Online, with individual apps renamed to Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online. See the below image for an idea as to how the company may be looking to improve the discoverability of each available 'Office Online' app. Compared to what's currently listed in the main navigation bar, this would be quite the improvement.

Microsoft Online Headers

How the new headers could look when using Microsoft's online services

Microsoft recently published a blog entry (opens in new tab) covering some navigational changes coming to Office Web Apps, including the revamped navigation bar. Since the post went live, the content team have removed any mentioning of changes coming to headers, but it's believed these improvements are still on their way, which would make navigating between the different Web Apps and other Microsoft cloud services far simpler and more convenient.

Office Online

One of the screenshots shared by Yan Zhu

Should Microsoft carry out said changes to its online suite of Office apps, this would make it more inviting for consumers to use. The free tools would be better positioned for marketing – Office Web Apps versus Office Online – and would fit in with changes applied to not only Microsoft as a company, but Windows and other products / services. We'll keep our eyes open for any details to come to light, as well as reach out for more information.

How would you feel about such changes coming to the Office Web Apps, and do you have any issues with using the suite as it's currently set up?

via: ZDNet, The Verge

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • What happened to OneOffice ?
  • Who knows. But it seems to me MS spends a lot of time rebranding and renaming things. Can't they employ the right people to get it right the first time?
  • Well the only thing they've rebranded lately would be this and Skydrive. The skydrive renaming wasn't voluntary. So if rebranding one thing voluntarily and one by court order is an "awful lot of rebranding," I don't think they can hire the right guys to get it right. And this isn't really rebranding so much as giving Office online an official name.
  • Microsoft seems to be on a rebranding campaign. If windows phone had to be rebranded, as it has to be, once its unified with desktop windows, what do you think the new name should be?
  • I don't think they mean unified quite in the way youre thinking
  • I think they should grow a pair and run with the Metro name for the design language and OS.
  • how about the "one phone" ;)
  • No ...its sound like htc one series
  • Terrible...
  • It doesn't need to be rebranded.  Since they are eventually merging, it shuold simply be "Windows" and "Windows Pro", similiar to how is today.
  • He is talking about windows phone. I actual think it should be rebranded. If the os doesn't have app windows in it, it shouldn't use the windows brand. WP shares some code with windows 8 but UI wise it has nothing in common.
  • The Microphone(tm)
  • LOL. Good one.
  • Surface Micro
  • Hope this will be used more than Google Drive.
  • I personally don't know anyone (not into tech) that knows what that is.
  • lol I have yet to meet someone who uses crappy Google Drive and Google Docs.
  • Yeah me to
  • Really? I know lots of people that use it for business. Small companies, who don't have a central server or domain.
  • Whats crappy about It? Just curious.
  • Nav bar looks great
  • Windows One.
  • Windows OneDrive-OneOffice-XboxOne...........I'd call it One Office instead of Office Online - sounds kinda 90's - like America Online.  Either way - they need to bring the Fetch feature back to OneDrive - Why can I fetch files from my Windows 7 desktop computer at work with skydrive desktop app installed, but i cannot Fetch files from my laptop with Windows 8.1.............Addition by subtraction is never good - and it seems that is the phase we are in right now.  Im excited for new features to be brought to Windows 8 - further OneDrive integration, optimization of the modern UI applications, BRING FETCH FEATURES TO WINDOWS 8.1, and ALLOW INSTALLATION OF WINDOWS STORE APPS TO SD CARDS!!!!! - I have 32gb Dell Venue 8 pro, and am really struggling to have space on the C drive.  If i could move all my metro apps to the SD card i wouldnt have this problem.  I was able to do it on Surface RT with original windows 8, but now using full 8.1, and they have removed the option.  It is really putting a damper on my use of the device.
  • Office web apps is a little known about gem. I've helped out several people by getting then a free SkyDrive account and thus Office web app access. Toss in a Microsoft Project and Visio viewer and it would be a complete option.
  • I personally think this is smart, and like it. And, I'm not surprised, because they already have SharePoint Online, Access Online, and so on. The Online branding bit is more to quickly differentiate between the offline/legacy/non-cloud version of these applications. I love seeing these changes and improvements. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Since they've gone the regal route with One's Drive, surely they should have gone with One's Office as well? I'm assuming we commoners will get similar stuff too. Will it be PlebDrive and PlebOffice? Time will tell...
  • One Office would be a good rebrand for Office 365. 
  • Like OneOffice. And Office Online is a much better name than web apps, imo. So MS just do it! And why not really simplify and have access to everything via, I use this page more and more recently to access products and services. One place to access everything windows/ Microsoft.... Also, love the Office Online pic screenshots shared by Yan Zhu...
  • Coollll I love officeeeee
  • And the sample images still say "SkyDrive" on them. Get with the times MS! It's all about OneDrive now.
  • office online look really nice, i've always hated headers empty space thankfully they put something to cover it :)
  • Rebrand this. Rebrand that.
  • Good idea. Although it's not difficult to create Office documents in Skydrive, the way they have hidden the Office Web Apps from direct view in has always made me wonder if they actually even WANTED people to use them. Maybe it's been sort of an offcial beta until now? Either way, happy they get featured more prominently now. They are a big part of why I stick tp the MS ecosystem.
  • The only minus thing about Office web apps is, printing. Once, I tried to print a word document, and found it only print like browser printing it's web pages (with additional URL info and all). Can anyone confirm this still the case? If users somewhat can generate XPS or PDF files to save it on local files and use it for printing, it would be nice. This can be handy when we want to print something, but the computer didn't have office installed.
  • Are these free apps? Or do you have to pay a subscription fee? Like Kuro said, good print output is still essential. So far, all these "improvements" are just making life more confusing.
  • The rebranding is necessary, but it will be as meaningless and confusing as all MS branding is unless it is as simple as tapping on an icon.
    Seriously, the vast majority of possible customers don't know what MS means by "Live" which was always a confusing bit of branding. I don't know when they will stop letting Engineers decide these things and actually ask their Customer Base whether their branding makes any sense to them. And its not just on-line services. What percentage if the Public understands the distinctions between a MS Surface, vs Surface Pro? They know the difference between an iPad and an iPad Mini though.
    Honestly, the first thing I would do when I become the new MS CEO is clean house over in Marketing and bring in some people who have a clue how to communicate with the Public, not just IT guys and enthusiasts.
  • Good point. Find the correct brand name and stick with it. So everyone knows what it is and what it does. K.I.S.S
  • As part of thier be"banner layout" they should include all thier services, I see the likes of zOutlook, People Calender,etc, thier productivity apps, but I think they should include thier entire suite on online services that consumers would use. Xbox Music should be there, Skype should be there maybe even Bing. They need thier own video service(buy Vimeo).
    Thier online offerings need to rival googles in ease of access, ease if use and productivity and entertainment. Google is mainstreaming online services, OEMs are putting increased confidence in Chromebooks, Google is creating Internet backbones making increasingly consistent internet access even more consistent, further diminishing the major drawback of Chromebooks. Our future is increasingly online, with an almost always connected world, soon commercials from Microsoft, dismissing the chromebooks effectiveness as a laptop to to its reliance on the internet connection will no longer be relevant. Suppose a national WiFi network becomes a reality! Google is an internet company, fundamentaly prepared for that connected world, and developing services that many are beginning to rely on. I sincerely hope Microsoft has a clear vision of this and makes its online services very easy to access, very easy to use and broadens the base to provide FUN consumer base services as well, so that there will be a broader base of market appeal beyond productivity and enterprise. Microsoft has an edge in that their Office products are the de facto standard and they can be used online, via a disc, subscribed to ir downloaded. They need a touch of "cool". Make people realize that they ARE the same people that made the wildly popular, cool and successful Xbox. Line the consumer products up with the productivity products and really pitch One Microsoft.
  • This ^ And keep it simple, metro, refreshing and easy to use.
  • I use these all the time on the computer I don't have office.  As mentioned, you need to access through SkyDrive, but one issue I ran into was when I had Windows 8, the SkyDrive app would open up a document you wanted to access in the webapp automatically, if you didn't have a local copy stored.  But once I upgraded to W8.1, that function went away, and now when I go to the SkyDrive app (not, the documents don't open.  I've searched this and other people have posted the same thing.  If they could make it so that you could make webapps the default option in Windows to open up documents, that would be the biggest deal to me by far.
  • Long overdue. I think Office Web Apps is rather confusing while Office Online passes the message instantly!!
  • That header should also contain Bing. And Bing should also have this header. And the header should be customizable. Here's my concept:
  • Windows Metro and Lumia
  • The sooner they get all their products named properly, the better their marketing efforts can go!
  • Good move.
  • I think the banner should have one "Office Online" tile and then once you click it, it takes you to a page where you can choose. I feel like it makes the banner look cluttered with all the tiles.