Microsoft announced today that the next release of Microsoft Office will include online versions of the main components of Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The online versions will be “lightweight versions”, that is, not contain all of the features of the desktop products.
Good for consumers, Microsoft is going to support the Firefox and Safari browsers in addition to Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.
The online applications will be available to end-users through the Microsoft Office Live service which has ad-funded and subscription options.
While a survey done on ReadWriteWeb earlier this year showed that the majority of that site’s visitors still used the Microsoft Office desktop application for their word processing and spreadsheet needs, there has been growing online competition to the behemoth office suite from the free online suites by Google and Zoho.
We’ve written about the Google and Zoho offerings repeatedly. It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft will be able to compete online, in the arena they have owned for so long, with the more nimble Zoho and Google.