Microsoft Renames Office Online

Posted on July 25, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Office, Office 365 with 31 Comments

Microsoft announced that it will drop the word “Online” from its Office Online branding. Apparently, it was too precise.

“Microsoft has decided to retire the ‘Online’ branding for the web version of Office and adopt new terminology for how we refer to the apps on the web,” Microsoft’s Bill Doll explains, and the very wording of that first sentence suggests he’s trying to distance himself from this bad decision. “Office Online is now simply Office.”

No, it’s not April 1. Instead, “because [its] offerings have evolved to provide access to apps on more than one platform,” Microsoft feels that it no longer needs to indicate the name of the platform in its product names. I disagree. Microsoft has always provided access to its Office apps on more than one platform—Excel shipped first for the Mac, you may recall—and being precise is important. Word for Mac is not the same as Word for Windows or Word Online—sorry, “Word for the web”—despite the similar looks and feels, functionality, and even code bases.

What’s really silly here is that even Microsoft acknowledges this.

“Of course, at times we still need to make specific reference to the web version of Office so you may see us use the term ‘Office for the web,’ which aligns with how we refer to Office on other platforms such as ‘Office for Windows,’ ‘Office for Mac,’ ‘Office for iOS,’ and ‘Office for Android’,” he continues. “However, ‘…for the web’ is not a new brand or strict naming convention so you may also see us also use terminology such as ‘…on the web,’ ‘…on,’ and ‘…in a browser.’ We encourage people to use whichever terminology is most appropriate and provides the most clarity for a given context.”

I know. You’re thinking, this couldn’t get worse. But you’re wrong.

“It is important to note that this branding change only applies to the Office apps,” Doll continues, amping the incredulity to 11. “There is no change to the branding for our ‘Online’ server products – specifically Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Project Online, and Office Online Server.”