The web has become an integral platform for Office and how we at Microsoft serve our customers. We fundamentally believe that Office is way more than just the desktop apps and that each of our platforms is critical to our long-term success. We’ve come a long way with our web solution over the past few years and we will continue to invest aggressively to make Office on the web the best productivity experience it can be.
Part of this is customer driven – the web is uniquely qualified to address certain situational needs, it allows people to access Office more quickly and easily, and many people simply prefer using software in a browser. However, much of this is engineering driven – the web oftentimes enables us to develop more quickly and effectively because of the ability to deploy rapidly, get real-time feedback, and iterate quickly to refine our features and capabilities.
Today, the web is at the forefront of innovation for Office. Our engineering teams have found that using the web to quickly land and refine new features based on user data is helping us respond to customer demands and deliver better experiences. As a result, many of the most important recent innovations for Office have been born on the web.
Here are four recent examples of Office capabilities that came first to the web that are now helping shape the Office experience across each of its platforms:
Ideas is one of the core ways we’ve been integrating AI technology into Office. Ideas helps users be more efficient by quickly finding unique ways to understand and present information. For Excel, it can interpret a data set and intuitively find the best charts for presenting that data or determine outliers in the data that might be worth investigating. In PowerPoint, it interprets basic content on a slide (bullets, pictures, etc) and generates options for how to present it better with visually compelling layouts, content-specific iconography, or useful graphics such as a visual timeline. The web helps us refine this intelligence to make these capabilities even better and find new ways of using it such as with Ideas in Word which will become available in the not-too-distant future.
New Collaboration Capabilities
Office now has rich collaboration capabilities across all platforms, most of which originated on the web. You’ve been able to co-author in documents for a little while now, but over the past few months we’ve helped users work more efficiently with @mentions in comments so you point someone to an exact location within a document to get input. Other capabilities like While You Were Away and the newly released Version History also make it easy for someone to understand and manage changes to a document over time.
Office start experience
We redesigned Office.com a couple years ago as a new way for people to get started with Office and have continued enhancing it over time. A few months ago, we brought that experience to an app form factor with the Office app. Either experience provides a powerful new way to get started with Office – whether you’re looking to find the apps available to you or quickly find and jump into the documents most relevant to you. The Office app was built as a progressive web app (PWA) so the web continues to power this experience.
The Simplified Ribbon helps people use Office the way that works best for them. For those that want a more streamlined view for the feature menus, the Simplified Ribbon creates a more focused set of commands based on a person’s usage of them. Of course, you can still choose to use the traditional Ribbon if that’s the view you prefer. The web has made it easier for us to develop and refine this new capability and make Office a better experience for everyone.
These innovations will usually make their way to the desktop apps and when practical, the mobile apps, and we are still just as committed to building amazing experiences for those platforms. We believe that having a first-rate experience across all platforms is part of what makes Office stand out as the best productivity solution on the planet. But if you are looking for Office’s newest innovations that are raising the bar for productivity, make sure you check out what we are doing on the web.
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