updated 04:35 pm EDT, Tue October 28, 2008
Microsoft Office Web
Microsoft today backed up the unveiling of Windows 7 with Office Web, the company's first ground-up, web-based production suite. The online apps include simpler versions of Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Word that share a similar interface to Office 2007 and will let users both edit and view documents anywhere they have a broadband Internet connection. Microsoft explains that the feature will give users a consistent experience and access to Office even on mobile devices with advanced web browsers.
The files should be savable both online and off for working away from an Internet connection, though Microsoft hasn't announced whether the web app itself will be convertible to an offline version for use outside of the network. No mention has been made of whether Office Web will require either Internet Explorer or Windows to function properly, though the company has in the past made its Windows Live web services compatible with non-Microsoft platforms.
Office Web should be available alongside the release of Office 14, the next traditional version of the company's software. Like existing Office Live services, Web should be available both in a free ad-sponsored version as well as a paid, ad-free version.
Microsoft's release is believed in part to be a reaction to Google Documents, which already supports the creation of presentations, spreadsheets and reports on the web and which can also be converted to an offline app through Google Gears and similar tools. The service has relatively low adoption versus Office but has been increasingly used primarily or exclusively by those not already dependent on Office.