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Office Online Getting Updates and Google Store Distribution

Microsoft has updated its free Office Online suite of Web applications and is offering the product at no cost through the Google Chrome Web Store.

Office Online is Microsoft browser-based versions of Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word that formerly were known as "Office Web Apps." The Office Online applications have the look and feel of Microsoft Office suite apps, but they are more lightweight and have fewer features. However, Microsoft has been slowly enhancing the Web app versions, adding some features that Microsoft Office users have long taken for granted.

Microsoft also indicated in its announcement on Monday that Office Online apps can now be downloaded from the Google Chrome Web Store, although they also are available through a browser via Office.com. However, at press time, just the PowerPoint Online app was shown as available in Google's store.

Excel Online will be getting its improvements "over the course of the next few days," according to an Excel blog post. With that update in place, it will at last be possible to edit files containing Visual Basic for Applications code without corrupting those files, Microsoft explained. Excel Online is also getting an improved commenting capability, the ability to hide and unhide rows and columns by right-clicking on them, and an improved "Tell Me" help feature.

OneNote Online is getting the ability to print your notes. In addition, OneNote Online has a new multiple-column menu system.

PowerPoint Online has been revamped to make the editing process with text look more like the final product. Users also can now play YouTube videos embedded within PowerPoint Online files.

Word Online is getting a new comments pane that will make it easier to collaborate with others and mark comments as being "done." Microsoft is also saying that footnotes and endnotes capabilities are "now fully available to all users." Word Online documents now can be exported as PDF files. Microsoft also added some functionality improvements for managing numbered lists.

Office Online can be used at no cost by anyone with online access and a browser. The one requirement is to have signed up for a free Microsoft account. Microsoft also has an Office Web Apps Server product, based on SharePoint, for commercial use.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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