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Hold the 'Web' and 'Online' and Just Call It 'Office,' Microsoft Says

In a linguistic simplification of sorts, Microsoft has jettisoned the object of the preposition, as well as the preposition itself and even the article of the preposition, from its formerly known "Office on the Web" product branding.

Just call it "Office" now, Microsoft urged, in a Wednesday announcement. The naming switch also applies to individual Office applications, according to Bill Doll, an Office product marketing official focused on Office Online and the Office app.

"In line with this approach, the official product name for what was previously referred to as 'Office Online' is now simply 'Office,'" Doll stated. "We have also discontinued use of the 'Online' branding with each of the apps so 'Word Online' is now 'Word,' 'Excel Online' is now 'Excel,' etc."

Office Online isn't really the current terminology that's getting dropped. The Online term is an old product descriptor that Microsoft stopped using years ago. Instead, Microsoft had been using "Outlook on the web," etc., which is the current phrasing that's getting dropped.

Here's the history as I recall it. Microsoft's browser-based Office applications started as extensions under the Office Live Workspace brand. Later, they were called "Office Web Apps." In 2014, Microsoft decided that Office Web Apps should be called Office Online instead, which was part of Microsoft's Office.com Web portal rollout. Microsoft at some point later dropped the "Online" part and starting using the "on the web" prepositional phrase instead. There wasn't any official announcement about that last product-naming switch that I can recall, though.

Doll indicated that Microsoft from time to time might still use phrases like "Office for the Web" to generically describe its browser-based Office apps. He added that people should use the phrase that's best, given the context.

Microsoft changed its Office Online terminology to Office because its productivity suite runs across multiple platforms, and the sub-branding across products didn't make sense anymore, according to Doll. However, the Online term, now being discarded by Microsoft, actually was a useful distinction for software buyers. Office desktop products and Office Mobile app products typically have differences in terms of supported features from their Office on the Web cousins. For some individuals and organizations, those feature differences could be important. Now it seems they'll have to ask beforehand if they are buying Office or Office Online.

Microsoft's terminology switch isn't being extended to its hosted server products. Office 365 products such as Exchange Online and SharePoint Online will still keep the "Online" part, Doll explained.

About the Author

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

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