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Microsoft Office Online Review

This free platform provides functionality similar to desktop applications

Microsoft Office Online can act as a free alternative to MS Office. It allows you to edit and share files created in a word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation program and access Microsoft Outlook and OneNote.

Everything done with the online version of Office is done through a web browser and saved online, allowing you to access the files from any location.

Microsoft Office Online Home Menu

What We Like
* There is no need to download any software.
* Opens all file types supported by Microsoft Office desktop apps.
* Share and work together.
* Free templates are available.
* Automatically saves your work.
* The interface is similar to that of desktop versions.
* Word, OneNote, Calendar, and Outlook all have automatic spell checking.
What We Don’t Like
* Files must be present in OneDrive before you can use them.
* Excel and PowerPoint do not allow you to check for spelling mistakes.
* The maximum file size supported is 2 GB.
* It is not always possible to save in the original format.

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Microsoft Office


Using Office Online

When you visit www.office.com and sign in with your Microsoft account, you’ll see a menu similar to the one shown above that gives you access to all the available apps. That is how you access Excel online, Word, Outlook, and other programs.

When you choose an app, you will be taken to it right away, where you can create and edit files already in your account and upload new ones. Excel Online, for example, has an Upload and open button that allows you to select an XLS, XLSX, XLB, CSV, or other supported file from your computer.

Microsoft Excel Online

Office Online also makes it extremely simple to share files and collaborate on documents with others in real-time. To collaborate on files, you can share links that anyone with a Microsoft account can open.

RELATED: How to Get Free Microsoft Office 365 for Students

Microsoft Office Online File Formats

Microsoft Office Online fully supports the following file types, which means you can open and save back to these formats:

DOCM, DOCX, PPTM, PPTX, XLSM, XLSX

Other files, such as CSV, are also supported, but if you want to save it back to your computer after editing, you must select XLSX or XLSM.

Otherwise, Office saves to OneDrive by default. You can, however, use an export tool that allows you to save formats such as ODT and PDF as downloaded documents. It connects to your desktop version of Office, so your most recent files list is synced between the two.

Microsoft Office Online vs. Microsoft Office

The desktop version is identical to the online version. Both have Word, ExcelPowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. While some features may be missing from the online tool, the overall appearance and feel are nearly identical.

Microsoft Office Online offers limited features than the MS Office desktop offers. Because they are stored on a hard drive and have access to the operating system, desktop apps have more powerful tools for inserting complex objects. Although Office Online is a full-featured online productivity suite, no online-only platform can compete with a locally installed program.

Tip: There is currently no online version of Access and Publisher available.

RELATED: Microsoft 365 vs. Office Desktop Version

Thoughts on Microsoft Office Online

If you’re familiar with the desktop version of Office, using the online version is a breeze because the menus and functions are similar, if not identical.

Standard file formats are enabled, and the online version supports every format that Office supports. However, there is a significant difference between Office Online and the desktop version using these files.

Assume you’re collaborating with someone else on a DOC file created in a program like SSuite Office. If you open this DOC file in Office Online and try to edit it, the file gets automatically converted to DOCX. When you save it and return it to the SSuite user, you can make no changes because that Office suite does not support DOCX files.


Is Office Online free?

Office Online is a free version of Microsoft 365. You can link it to your Microsoft account (if you don’t have one, you can create it by going to www.office.com). Because Office Online is a web application that runs in your browser, it will work on any device, from PCs and Chromebooks to iPads and Android tablets.

What is included in Office Online?

Instead of paying for Outlook, you can use Outlook.com for email. Office Online includes the four core apps: WordExcelPowerPoint, and OneNote—the same you’d get with the Office Home & Student 2021 suite. You have the Office Home & Business 2021 suite equivalent for free, considering all five.


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