Microsoft today announced that it is rebranding the Office suite of productivity apps on the web by dropping the “Online” suffix in the app names. Therefore, the apps will now be called ‘Word’, ‘Excel’ and ‘PowerPoint’ instead of ‘Word Online’, ‘Excel Online’ and ‘PowerPoint Online’. The company says that the change reflects the lack of need to use “platform-specific sub-brands” since the apps have “evolved to provide access to apps on more than one platform”. Therefore, the products with the “Office Online” nomenclature will now be referred to as “Office”.
The firm adds that in order to avoid confusion, it will use the “Office for the web” term to refer to apps on the web, similar to the names used to denote apps on other platforms, such as “Office for Mac”, “Office for Android” and so on. However, the company is quick to add that the “Office for the web” term is not an official brand name or a strict nomenclature and that it may also use other terms such as “…on the web” and “…on Office.com”.
Naturally, the rebranding applies only to the Office apps and does not affect other web server products such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Project Online, and Office Online Server. The changes should begin rolling out to users “relatively soon”, as changes to most documentation such as marketing and technical content, communications, and in-product experiences are complete.
The Office suite of web apps has been powerful enough for basic productivity tasks for those that need them. The apps also received a fresh coat of paint through the form of a Fluid Design System update, along with improved search capabilities and accessibility enhancements. With focus dwindling down on the mobile versions of the apps for Windows 10 and the possible rethink of the future of UWP, a viable replacement for the mobile versions has been absent.
With Microsoft’s rumored lightweight OS on the horizon, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the firm repackage these web apps as a PWA and offer it through the store for devices with smaller screens, something that the mobile versions of the apps were offered free for. This could very well help the company further broaden the reach of these apps. For the versions on the web too, newer capabilities in the future through efforts such as the Fluid Framework might mean that the “Online” moniker would end up undermining the prowess of these apps.