The fight for users who prefer to edit documents, create presentations and store both on someone else’s servers instead of their own hard drive is heating up. After formally introducing the Office Web Apps to users three years ago and keeping them updated alongside its traditional desktop apps, Microsoft is hoping that a new united branding and navigation well help it attract the same users who’ve flocked to Google Drive for their productivity needs. Microsoft announced the refreshed branding and unified navigation earlier today. Understandably, anytime Microsoft issues a large-scale update to the Office Web Apps users get excited. That’s because many businesses use Office for just about everything in their day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, the changes seem to be small. Microsoft has added a new navigation that easily allows users to switch from different parts of Office Online. Of course, it’s also made sure that the branding for each part of Office Online matches its counterpart in Windows 8. The entire lineup includes, Word Online, Outlook.com, People, OneNote Online, PowerPoint Online, Calendar, Excel Online and the newly-renamed OneDrive cloud storage utility. To be fair, it isn’t as if there was a whole lot that the Office Web Apps and Outlook.com didn’t already do before the rebranding. They already offered users the chance to edit their documents for free and collaborate with other users in creating other documents for free. In fact, the functionality offered by Office Online and Google Drive is strikingly similar. Google Drive also allows users to create and collaborate on documents with a set of web apps. Those documents can be shared with other users and stored on Google’s Drive storage utility too.Originally launched as a direct competitor to Office, Google Drive is used by millions of users looking for a free alternative to Microsoft’s apps. The competition between the two companies is what led to Office Web Apps and now Office Online. Microsoft Office Web Apps are key since the company still doesn’t offer a native version of Office for the iPad or Android tablets. Most devices with a modern web browser can load up the new Office Online now. Those who do so will want to sign in with the same Microsoft Account that they use for Xbox Live, Outlook.com or their Windows PC.
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