Google has paved the way by allowing users to access typical Office programs such as word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation programs online for free. The suite, known as “Google Docs Editors,” was first introduced in 2006, prompting Microsoft to respond with its own online office suite in 2009. Both Google and Microsoft’s offerings require a user account and only necessitate a browser and internet connection.
To access Microsoft’s suite, users can visit the portal www.office.com and log in with their Microsoft account or create a new one. Upon logging in, users can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, OneNote, To Do, Family Safety, Calendar, and Skype via the bar on the left and the nine-dot symbol. Some additional programs, such as Forms or Loop, require a paid Microsoft 365 subscription to use.
Users can create new, blank documents or use existing templates through the online platforms. Office files saved locally on a computer cannot be loaded directly into the free online office; instead, they must be accessed through the cloud storage OneDrive, which offers 5GB of free storage space for every Microsoft account user.
The online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint feature slightly different ribbons and may lack certain functions available in their desktop counterparts. For example, Word Online has a simplified ribbon by default, while Excel Online does not support VBA or external data sources. PowerPoint Online does not offer a “Record” ribbon for recording presentations.
Despite some limitations, users can still perform essential tasks such as creating documents, worksheets, and presentations, as well as opening and saving files. The seamless integration of cloud storage and efficient online functionality make these offerings from Google and Microsoft valuable resources for users looking for accessible and user-friendly office programs.