Microsoft Ditches Office Web Apps Brand, And Partners Love The Move

Microsoft rebranded its Office Web Apps offering to Office Online in a move aimed at clarifying the purpose of its free, Web browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

In a blog post Wednesday, Amanda Lefebvre, Microsoft's senior product marketing manager for Office Web Apps, said some customers have been puzzled by what exactly Office Web Apps are intended to do.

"We heard from customers that the inclusion of 'Apps' in our name was confusing. Are they something I install? Do I go to an app store to get them? No, to use them all you need is a Web browser," Lefebvre said in the blog post.

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While users have been able to access Office Web Apps through SkyDrive (now called OneDrive) and SharePoint, Microsoft wants to make them easier to find, Lefebvre said in the blog post. So it's now using its website -- which previously was used as a login page for Office 365 -- to promote Office Web Apps.

When using Office Web Apps through, "Your files are automatically saved to OneDrive, so you can share them with others and work together on documents, presentations, spreadsheets and notebooks in real time," Lefebvre said in the blog post.

Microsoft partners who for years have been fielding questions from customers about Office Web Apps are happy about the change.

"Customers didn't understand that Office 365 could mean Office rich client and Office Web Apps," Reed Wilson, founder and president of Palmetto Technology Group, a Greenville, S.C.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN.

"We have been educating customers for the past four years that, yes, Microsoft does have a cloud offering for Office in addition to the rich client. You don't have to pick just one," Wilson added.

Tony Safoian, president of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif., solution provider, thinks getting rid of the Office Web Apps name is a good move. "Office Web Apps is too loose of a name. Office Online just resonates and makes sense with simple language," he told CRN.