Skip to main content

Soon, the Windows 10 Office app will actually be useful

Laptop with Office 365
Laptop with Office 365 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The Office app on Windows 10 will soon let you open files directly within it.
  • At first, the Office app will only let you view files, but the ability to update them will reportedly come in the future.
  • Microsoft already has unified Office apps on iOS and Android.

Perhaps no other suite of apps is synonymous with Windows as much as Microsoft Office. While millions of people use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other standalone Office apps on their PCs, it appears that Microsoft is working on another option. According to a report by Dr. Windows, the Office app on Windows 10 will soon let you view files directly within the app, rather than having to pop over to a separate app or a web browser.

Right now, the Office app on Windows 10 is more of a hub to get you to other ways to access files and documents. If you don't have the standalone Office apps installed, the Office app on Windows has a button to take you to a webpage to download them. You can also see all of your files and documents within the Office app, but clicking on them takes you over to a web browser.

Dr. Windows reports that Microsoft will turn the Office app into a progressive web app in June. With this update, you'll be able to open files and documents directly within the Office app on Windows. To start, you'll only be able to view files, but Dr. Windows says that the ability to edit will come in the future. You'll also be able to open multiple instances of the Office app.

The updated Office app isn't intended to replace the dedicated Office apps on Windows 10. The Office programs within it are the web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other apps. These are fine for day-to-day use for most people but don't have all the features of the dedicated apps on Windows 10.

An improved unified Office app on Windows is somewhat similar to the Office apps on iOS and Android. These unified Office apps for mobile devices let you jump into and edit files and documents.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

12 Comments
  • So... like a read-only version Teams without the Teams features? One of the many, many things Teams does is includes full built-in editing for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Planner. All part of the Teams collaboration features, but you could just use it as really convenient, well-organized hub for your files and Office applications. This is one of the reasons it's silly when people suggest that Slack or Zoom are better than Teams. Each of those does 1 thing. Teams does it all.
  • Teams' versions of Planner adds dark mode and gives OneDrive has more sorting and filing options. So for those components of Office, it actually enhances the original apps. (But ironically, its version of OneNote lacks dark mode, so for that the Desktop or Windows 10 version of OneNote are better; wonder if this new Office App will support dark mode for OneNote).
  • I just... don't get this. Maybe it's a marketing device, something that facilitates app discovery for subscribers, particularly users, or maybe potential subscribers. Otherwise I find it useless. I think overall the FILE discovery system for office files on Windows needs a boost. That's one thing where the Office app did better than, say, Timeline. (Why can't Windows have the same list of recent Office files?) And would it kill Microsoft to have web links to Office files open in their locally installed app by default? I just find this all confusing and it actually slows me down. It's a screaming outrage that it's easier to get back to recently closed Office files in Android than it is in Windows because of issues with Timeline and search.
  • Timeline doesn't work for me beyond 3 days and no sharing across my desktop and laptop (Timeline doesn't work if you're on a local domain, apparently by design -- a point of annoyance for me, but I digress). But even if it did, I'm not sure how useful it would be for Office files compared to Jump Lists. Do you use those? I know by default they only include 10-12 files for each app, but I've increased those to ~30 and can usually get to any file with 2 clicks: 1 right click on the icon on my taskbar and then 1 more to select the file. Then it opens. Faster than Timeline. It's an extra click for PowerPoint, because I don't keep that pinned to my Taskbar, so that requires hitting Start first.
  • Good point on Jump Lists (right-clicking the app icon to see recent files). I do use those at times but that's extra steps. I can look for the app and find the file in the jump list, but why the hell can't Timeline just have correct links to my most recent files? It's so infuriating to see the links to the Office.com versions, and for those to open to a browser. (You have to scroll way down into Timeline to find the local version of the file.) At least the Office app has a list of all the recent Office files. The Surface team makes a big deal about letting you get into your flow, but Windows gets in the way when I'm juggling several kinds of Office documents (which I do often).
  • Timeline works for me, it opens the respective Office app installed (eg Word) and the document I selected. But I still prefer Jumplists, they make the most sense to me and feel intuitive & fast (I have a few important documents that I need edit regularly pinned and recent docs. The rest I open from Search or File Explorer. Timeline would be amazing I would not have to click the tiny icon before I can type to search within it.
  • Is your prefer zoom, you can pin the zoom so right into teams and still use it while retaining all of the other features teams has too!
  • I forgot that it was even there, but it is not an app as such, just a shortcut to office on the web. I would not use it as it needs an MS account and LibreOffice does the job for me and keeps my files off the cloud.
  • You do not need to put your files on the cloud with Office 365, its an optional feature (I have it turned off with everything except for a few docs I intentionally want to share with others for working actively together on them).
  • they Can't even get the right icon.
  • Does anyone actually use this?
  • Just checked it out and while I think it can be handy for some, Jumplists seem handier and faster to me.