This is Microsoft's week for rebranding. First it relaunched SkyDrive as OneDrive, and now Office Web Apps will henceforth be known as Microsoft Office Online.
The change had been rumored since last month. In a posting on the official Office Blog, Microsoft's Amanda Lefebvre wrote on Wednesday that the company "heard from customers that the inclusion of Apps in our name was confusing." Customers, she said, were not clear if Office Web Apps were something to install, or if one needed to get them from an app store.
"No," she answered, "to use them all you need is a Web browser." That, Lefebvre said in the voice of a customer, sounds "like Office, online."
Couldn't Find Apps
In addition to the name, Lefebvre said a second issue was that many people who were not already using Office Online via SkyDrive -- now called OneDrive -- could not find the apps. To remedy that problem, the company is re-branding Office.com as the front door for Office Online.
At Office.com, visitors now see tiles for online versions of Word, Outlook.com, OneNote, PowerPoint, Calendar and Excel, as well as access to OneDrive. A user of those cloud-based apps will need to create or login to a Microsoft Account, using any e-mail address. All the online apps are free to use, and they automatically save to OneDrive, where the apps are also still available.
Aside from the name change and the new online address, Microsoft has also added hundreds of templates to Word, PowerPoint and Excel, such as for budgets, resumes, and calendars. There's also an app switcher for moving between files, e-mail or storage, and collaboration features for working with others on the same files in real time have been enhanced.
OneDrive to SkyDrive
Office.com also shows three choices for online use of the application suite, including Office Online's free online versions of the apps and up to 7 GB of online storage.
In addition, there's Office 365 Home Premium for families, with installed apps for up to five Macs or PCs plus an unlimited number of smartphones, as well as online versions, online storage of 20 GB extra for each of up to five users beyond the standard 7 GB, and 60 minutes of Skype calling, at $9.99 monthly.
Office 365 for students is $79.99 for four years, and it includes all the Home Premium features, except it's for one user and up to 2 PCs or Macs.
The change to OneDrive from SkyDrive on Wednesday included several feature improvements, including improved video sharing and updated mobile apps.
Microsoft changed the name for its cloud storage service after a trademark dispute with British broadcasting company BSkyB over the original SkyDrive name.
The name OneDrive echoes the One Microsoft mantra that outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has emphasized, where there is a unity of some kind between the company's many -- and often confusingly named -- products and services.