Online Microsoft Office free
Microsoft’s Office Online is a completely free, web-based version of Microsoft Office. This online office suite is clearly competing with Google Docs, but it’s also a potential replacement for the desktop version of Office.
We’ll compare Office Online to both the desktop version of Microsoft Office and Google Docs to see where it fits. Should you use Office Online instead of Office 2013 or Google Docs?
Office Online vs. Desktop Office
Unlike all of Microsoft’s other Office products, Office Online at office.com is completely free. This is Office Online’s biggest advantage over desktop versions of Microsoft Office. You can use it on all the PCs you want without paying for additional boxed copies or subscribing to Office 365, Microsoft’s subscription service for Office.
Becausee it’s a web application that runs in your browser, Office Online will run on everything, from Linux PCs and Chromebooks to iPads and Android tablets. It doesn’t require any special plug-in and works in any popular browser, including Firefox, Chrome, and Safari — not just Internet Explorer.
Office Online saves your documents to your Microsoft OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) storage online. You can use the OneDrive integration in Windows 8.1 or the OneDrive desktop application on previous versions of Windows to sync the documents you create to your computer, getting local copies in Microsoft Office format. Office 2013 saves your documents to OneDrive by default, so Office Online works well as a companion web application. Your documents may already be available in OneDrive.
The web-based version of Office also offers better collaboration features than the desktop-based version of Office does. For example, when you collaborate with other people in the desktop version of Word 2013, only one person can edit the same paragraph at a time. Word Online offers real-time editing that allows multiple people to edit the same paragraph at a time.
Office Online is more limited than Microsoft Office. Microsoft provides Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. If you depend on other applications, like Microsoft Access, you’re out of luck.
These online applications are also simplified and stripped down. While they offer a similar interface to the desktop version of Office, complete with a ribbon, they have fewer features built in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most people don’t use all of the features available in the desktop Office apps. Want to do a mail merge or run macros? You can’t do that in Office Online, but you probably don’t need those features anyway.
Office Online also won’t work when you don’t have an Internet connection. If you want to edit documents offline, you’ll need the desktop version of Office.
Pros: Office Online is completely free, can easily be accessed from any device, and is better for real-time collaboration.
Cons: Office Online only provides a few popular Office applications, doesn’t have many of the more advanced features, and only works when you have an Internet connection.
Office Online vs. Google Docs
Google Docs is Google’s free, web-based office suite. Office Online is Microsoft’s response to the rise of Google Docs.
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