By Craig Buckler

Microsoft Release Office Online at

By Craig Buckler

I’m struggling to think of a desktop application which is more ubiquitous than Microsoft Office. It’s a standard: your business will struggle if you can’t open Word, Excel or PowerPoint files (that’s not to say you need MS Office, but you certainly must be able to open and create Office-compatible documents).

However, Microsoft’s second biggest cash cow is being threatened on three fronts:

  • Cheaper or open source alternatives such as It’s not as slick or as popular as MS Office, but OOo is a great suite and usage is growing.
  • The rise of free online office suites such as Google Docs. While few people will use an online application for complex work, they have become increasingly sophisticated and collaboration facilities are useful.
  • The older versions of Office. Why should anyone upgrade from Office 2003 or 2007 when they do everything you need?

Microsoft must innovate to entice upgrades and keep the competition at bay. As part of the Office 2010 release, the company is offering free online versions of their Office Suite.

One of the first versions can be found at That’s a great domain name — I wonder how much they paid for it? Interestingly, it uses your Facebook login credentials. Microsoft own a small share in the social networking site but it also means you can share documents and collaborate with Facebook friends. is a beta product and you’ll need to sign up and wait for an invite. Once you have access, you’ll be able to use and create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

But is it any good? I’ve been using the system for a few days a full review is available now…

  • just_passing_by

    I think this is just the *wrong* way to start – make you apply via Facebook. To me, this stinks.

  • Paul

    I find OpenOffice is a great alternative. It’s free and works very well with GoogleDocs and Zoho. It’s like my Offline Zoho or Google Docs. Very useful when the Internet is slow or not available. In fact, I find it has several features that ‘online word processors’ don’t (& I’m not even a power user) ;)
    I use the extension OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs (gdocs_2.2.0.oxt 2.2.0). This extension helps me upload to Google Docs or Zoho in just 2 clicks!
    I also sometimes use Lotus Symphony which I find very helpful.
    Savings really matter, especially in this economy.

  • Sadiq

    But Even microsoft uses resources from google by using jquery from google servers .. Go Google Go..

  • Wow, so I now have to create a Facebook login?

  • Jaipai

    Microsoft, look at what you’ve gotten yourself into. I love the “We can be web friendly too”. God, Microsoft your such a wimp… Yes, I agree the facebook signup is horrendous. Whoever pitched that idea was probably a lazy programmer who was overpaid to even work… I love how they could have made you signin from hotmail but they seem like traitors to their own stuff… Why wouldnt they make them login through hotmail like google links everything up to gmail… Cheezy, cheezy, common office… You could have done better than that. How many years for the next office will come out? Will the next office be? I love how the current up to date office is 2007… :P Seriously? Common office is all there is to say… After office 2010, the next will be 2015 surely, with a new little updated website where it does your bibliography for you. Arg grow up Microsoft and make 2015 hastily, not in december 1 month before 2016 to call it 2015… Whoever comes up these late-dated ideas are idiots. This should have came out ages ago, and have something up to date and creative out now. Let Microsoft tag along with the lines “We can do it too…” Just like a 5 year old boy…

  • JHig310336

    Though its in beta, its a very wrong way to start. The idea of MS getting Office online is great, even better if it’s free but already there execution on getting the product started is flawed. With MS utilizing Facebooks Login (Facebook Connect) they’ll find many users hesitant in giving the product a try once it’s out of beta. Never pigeon-hold you customers in signing up using Facebook. If anything MS should have more signup options, in addition to Twitter, Google, Yahoo, etc … including Docs own signup process. I wouldn’t be banking on the success of my app with Facebook as the only option to use my product. I hate FB … and I’m no the only one. Many businesses hate FB. My business (owner) doesn’t use FB but we swear by Twitter, Google, Yahoo and others. In fact, my offices document are powered by Google Docs. After looking at all the document options avail, Google was hands down the best, open, available, and most robust. My second choice for document creation was OpenOffice. With all the options available on the market, one of the biggest problems with MS Docs is it’s not part of an cost-effective and/or freely available online application base. Big deal you’ve finally put .docs online, when there are 100 & 1 products thats able to create, read, and write in the .doc format. If MS gets rid of FB Connect and/or add Connect options (Twitter, Google, Yahoo) and make it free (or cost-efffective) then they may be able to grab a nice portion of user base. If MS drops FB Connect, and bundle online version of Exchange for businesses of ALL sizes while making it free or cost-effective for the business and offer a nice size of safe online storage, then MS may be able continue to capitalize off the business client. But first step is to realize that not everyone is signed on with FB.

  • Tim is NOT Office Live, it’s a Facebook integrated version of Office online. As far as I know it was intended as a means to easily collaborate on Office documents through Facebook.

  • It says it right in the description why it uses Facebook Connect.

    “Now you can discover, create, and share Microsoft Office documents with your Facebook friends. Built using Microsoft Office 2010 – Docs for Facebook lets you work from just about anywhere with the familiar Office experience.”

  • I think it’s going to make for an interesting plug-in to Facebook. I’m hoping it has a “backup to your computer” type of option though. I can see something strange happening on Facebook and losing your documents.

  • I’m glad that they are focusing on adding FB Connect functionality instead of wasting time fixing their “offline” suite so that HTML email actually renders correctly for the first time in like five years.

    • What is there for Microsoft to fix? Outlook was designed not to render HTML emails. It is not broken. I suppose it is just a personal thing, but anything above RTF like HTML emails is a waste.

  • Do you know if the files you create at have the ability to be downloaded?

    • From within you can download the documents.. and there is an “Open in … ” link as well so you can open based on document type.

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