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Feb 15
Web Apps for Office Work
Written by Nick Clements

Office web apps are all about productivity: improving it, unlocking it … unleashing it! Like all web applications, office web apps help people access functionality wherever they are, connecting them to productivity tools via a web browser wherever they are connected to the internet via a range of devices.

There are a range of office web apps available to the consumer. Each of them provides greater access than the locally-installed versions accessible to your staff only when they are logged in to their machine at work. The great thing about a web application is that it is ‘always on’: simply navigate to its place on the web, and start working!

Which Office Web Apps?

Most obviously, Microsoft has made available its sector-leading Office suit via a web application. These office web apps are precisely what you’d expect: mobile versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and others. They are stripped-down from their ‘full’ versions, making it possible to run them quickly within a web browser environment, but they still boast all their basic functionality. Confusingly, Microsoft had originally called this offering Office Web Apps, but last year renamed it simply to ‘Office Online’, arguing that many users didn’t understand the difference between a web application and a mobile app they had to download to their device. The good news is that, whatever its name, as long as you have a Microsoft account, Office Online is entirely free to use.
That Microsoft, a company which has traditionally derived its revenue from installing local versions of software and then charging for upgrades, has moved into the office web apps sector is a sign of how web applications are transforming office work. Take Google’s office web apps service, Google Apps for Business, which for a modest charge offers since web application functionality including the powerful and broadly compatible Google Docs.

Web Applications Leading the Way

Indeed, the office web apps sector is increasingly crowded: in addition to Google, you can access Apache OpenOffice, Ubuntu OfficeApps, and for the Mac or iOS, latterly QuickOffice and now NeoOffice have been popular choices. The key, of course, is that all of these office web apps offer some form of the basic office tools: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation design. Many also provide a database package and desktop publishing function.

So office web apps are here to stay – because they can save businesses money and save staff time. Whatever your office needs, it’s well worth exploring how your business can benefit from better utilising office web apps.

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