Microsoft Moves Its Office To The Web


Microsoft has not announced when the next upgrade of the Office software will be available, instead demurring, saying only that the next version will be called 'Office 14,' Reuters reports. Historically, however, the makers of Windows have refreshed their Office suite once every two to three years. The last update to Office came in early 2007.

Microsoft has, until this announcement, made the decision not to move Office online, instead relying on selling licenses that allow the software to run locally on a single machine. Office Live also allows users to share files with advertisements attached, or purchase a monthly subscription for more functionality.

But with the rise of start-ups offering SaaS applications and a legitimate threat from Google and Google Documents, Microsoft may have finally read the writing on the wall and moved to the Web.

Microsoft said the next version of Office will be characterized by a lightweight version of Office Suite -- including Word, Excel and Powerpoint " which will all be able to be manipulated on a desktop, in a Web browser or even on a mobile phone.

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But Microsoft isn't ready to allow competitors to eat away at one of its most profitable products. In the September quarter, the Office business division of Microsoft was the most profitable, beating even the Windows segment. In the previous fiscal year, the Office business unit generated $18.9 billion in revenue and $12.4 billion in profit, Reuters reports.

Microsoft has not given the details on how customers will pay for Office 14, instead opting to say that it will be available to Microsoft Live customers. No word on whether customers will be able to continue having the application be paired with advertisements in lieu of payments or if a license is required.

However, the company did say that large corporate customer will have the option of paying for a license to run the applications online on their own machines, or to host them in Microsoft's data centers, Reuters reports.

The Web version of Office will run in Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Safari.