Microsoft: Anything you do, don’t refer to it as Office Online

Microsoft on Wednesday said hello would stop while using word “online” to explain its online versions of Office, instead referring to the internet suite as “on the net,” “in a browser,” or possibly “for the web.”

The branding change came from the same company that when called its single sign-on solution Microsoft Wallet, then Passport, then .Net Passport, then Microsoft Passport Network, then Windows Live ID, then another way “Microsoft account.” (Passport was resurrected for Windows 10 as the name for a part of its two-factor authentication; the label was dumped again inside a branding consolidation with Microsoft Hello.)

“The official product reputation for that which was previously referred to as ‘Office Online’ is now simply ‘Office,'” Bill Doll, a senior product marketing manager, wrote inside a post to a company blog. “We also have discontinued use of the ‘Online’ branding with every from the apps, so ‘Word Online’ has become ‘Word,’ ‘Excel Online’ is now ‘Excel,’ etc.”

Doll said the modification stems from the fact that because Office now has apps on multiple platforms, “It no longer is sensible to make use of any platform-specific sub-brands.”

Nevertheless, Microsoft continues to refer to “platform-specific sub-brands,” such as “Office for Mac” or “Office for Android.”

Instead of tag the web version of, say, Word, as “Word Online” or Office overall as “Office Online,” Microsoft may dub those as “Word for the web,” “Office on the internet,” “Word on” or “Office inside a browser,” Doll said.

But then Doll metaphorically threw up his hands and just threw in the towel. “We persuade folks to make use of whichever terminology is most suitable and provides the most clarity for a given context,” he explained.


And since “a foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds,” Microsoft decided that the new nope-no-online-here rules do not need to apply to its server-side products. “It is important to note this branding change only applies to the Office apps,” Doll asserted. “There is no change to the branding for the ‘Online’ server products – specifically Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Project Online, and Office Online Server.”

Commentators don’t care for the change.

“This is just another stupid [Microsoft] marketing move, another in a long history of stupid marketing moves,” said someone identified only as ron s.. “Thanks for nothing! This (dis)’improvement’ just increases the confusion.”

“Seems in my experience that you’ve taken that which was previous[ly] a really precise and unambiguous label and took it off,” added Kevin Crossman, who labeled himself a Microsoft MVP, or Most Valued Professional. “Which no doubt will cause confusion. But, if we may use ‘whichever terminology is most appropriate,’ I’m going to make use of the wording that provides the most clarity: Office Online.”

Office – or Office Online, Office for that web, Office inside a browser, and so on and so on – is available at and could be used totally free for non-commercial purposes. Office 365 business subscriptions come with rights to make use of Office online (see what we did there?) for work-related tasks.

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