New Office App Coming to Windows 10 Users

Microsoft is delivering a new Office app for Windows 10 consumer and business users over the new few weeks, according to a Wednesday announcement.

The Office app is a "progressive Web app" that's described as updating and "replacing" the current MyOffice app that comes preinstalled on Windows 10 systems. The Office app looks a lot like, Microsoft's free browser-based collection of Office applications for consumers. However, as a progressive Web app, the Office app has additional capabilities that make it seem more like a natively installed application.

For instance, the Office app lets users access and launch various Office applications more readily. It provides access to Office desktop apps installed on one's machine plus OneDrive cloud-based storage, SharePoint and the Office Online Web apps that come with Office 365 subscriptions. Organizations using Azure Active Directory can also provide access to so-called "third-party" (non-Microsoft) apps within the Office app.

Moreover, the Office app shows a user's most recently used documents in a list, including documents that have been shared with the user. Organizations can turn on Microsoft Search for the Office app, which will then tap into Microsoft Graph and Bing search across Office 365 products. The Office app includes tutorials on using Office products. Organizations additionally can "brand" Office apps with their logos.

Another benefit of the Office app being a progressive Web app is that it provides offline access to apps and files. Progressive Web apps use a "service worker" for the purpose, which is a JavaScript file that works over HTTPS connections to cache files for offline access. Essentially a service worker functions as "proxy servers that sit between web applications, the browser, and the network (when available)," according to Mozilla's definition. Service workers provide support for "rich offline experiences, periodic background syncs, push notifications -- functionality that would normally require a native application," per Google's description.

While the Office app is automatically coming to Windows 10 users over the coming weeks, it's also is currently available for download from the Microsoft Store here. It works with Windows 10 build 14257.0 or higher, which perhaps means that it works with Windows 10 version 1607 or higher.  

It's also possible to install the Office app from a browser on some operating systems. Users of the Android mobile operating system can install the Office app directly from Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Samsung Internet browsers, according to the Microsoft Mechanics video that accompanied Microsoft's announcement. The Google Chrome browser additionally has support for desktop installations of the Office app on Linux and Windows systems, with macOS support currently at the beta stage.

The next release of the Microsoft Edge browser, which will be based on the Google-fostered open source Chromium engine, will have support for installing the Office app, according Aaron Gustafson, principal program manager for Edge development, in the video.

Gustafson explained that progressive Web apps will expand what can be done compared with browser apps. For instance, progressive Web apps can let browsers tap into Windows Hello, Microsoft's biometric authentication solution for Windows 10 machines, he noted.

Microsoft likes progressive Web apps so much that it began an effort last year to stuff a bunch of them into the Microsoft Store.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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