Microsoft To Rebrand Office Web Apps As ‘Office Online’

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After the SkyDrive decision, Microsoft readies another product rebrand for its free ‘Office Web Apps’ cloud service

Microsoft is reportedly readying another rebranding of a major product line – namely its Office Web Apps.

This comes after a similar exercise with Redmond’s SkyDrive, which is soon to be known as OneDrive.

Office Web Apps

A page on the company’s Website displayed the planned Office Online packages, including a free version that offers 7GB of storage and cloud-delivered versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley posted a screenshot of the product matrix before Microsoft pulled the page.

Microsoft-skydrive-main-logo1To date, Office Web Apps took a backseat to SkyDrive, noted Foley. Office Online will flip things around. “Up until now, Microsoft has touted Office Web Apps more as a feature of SkyDrive, its cloud-storage offering soon to be rebranded OneDrive, and/or as an Office 365 feature,” stated Foley.

Microsoft announced on 27 January that the company is renaming its SkyDrive cloud storage platform to OneDrive. The move follows a court defeat last summer in the UK. Justice Sarah Asplin of the England and Wales High Court ruled on 28 July that SkyDrive infringed on trademarks held by the British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB).

The companies reached an agreement, the terms of which were undisclosed, that would allow Microsoft to use the SkyDrive brand. In a press statement, the companies announced that “Sky will allow Microsoft to continue using the SkyDrive name for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand.”

That transition appears to be nearly complete, and its effects are rippling across Microsoft’s cloud software portfolio. Mention of SkyDrive or OneDrive is noticeably absent from the since-removed product chart. They are referred to as simply “online storage.”

Product Rebrand

Referencing the same chart, Foley wrote that “it’s clear Microsoft is going to try to make Office Online more discoverable and understandable by the general public.” The rebranding effort may coincide with the company’s next major Office upgrade.

“It also seems that Microsoft considers this Office Online rebranding part of Microsoft’s next Office wave (codenamed Office 16), give that ‘O16’ is part of the URL path for the new compare site,” added Foley.

Meanwhile, some of the upcoming OneDrive features that the company teased during the rebranding announcement are coming into sharper focus. LiveSide, a Microsoft news site, obtained new screenshots that show the new “co-owned folder” functionality.

In his report, John Hsu explained, “If someone adds you as a co-owner to a folder on their OneDrive, not only can you view or edit files in that folder, but it will appear as one of your own folders.

“Consequently, you will be able to sync these shared files and folders onto your own PC, and be able to invite others to access the folder as well,” he added. The feature also addresses one of the SkyDrive desktop client’s most glaring shortcomings, its inability to sync shared folders for offline storage. Hsu expects the co-owned folders feature to launch alongside the new when it goes live.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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