|Microsoft has officially unveiled online versions of its Microsoft Office 2010 applications, including cloud versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The company revealed its new products with surprisingly little fanfare, though it's likely they'll garner considerable attention in the next few days.
Microsoft's move towards cloud computing alternatives for its traditional Office suite of applications is largely a response to Google's line of rival online products. The search giant has had considerable success with its Google Docs program, which allows users from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection to tinker with the same spreadsheet.
Release Ahead of Schedule
Want to make a list of upcoming projects for freelance writers working all over the world? It's easy for everyone to interact with that spreadsheet in Google Docs, and Microsoft's new line of products take that experience to the next level.
The online versions of PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and OneNote (the latter an under-appreciated note-taking and organizational tool) are all free. It wasn't expected that they would be made available for use by the average consumer for another week, but Microsoft has evidently trumped its early release schedule.
However, global users should note that, for the time being, only a few countries are getting the early access: Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
Reviews Report Improved Accessibility
Thus far, reviews of the free online apps are good. The number of tabs in each program has been reduced to clear up clutter and make navigation more streamlined than ever before. That idea makes it easier for newbies to try their hand at certain Office products, and it's likely Microsoft hopes the free programs will rope in new users that may at some point opt to buy the standard disc-based version of the suite.