Microsoft Office Online Review

This free platform offers functionality similar to desktop apps

Picture of the Microsoft Office logo


Microsoft Office Online can serve as a free Microsoft Office alternative, as it lets you edit and share files created in a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program, as well access MS Outlook and OneNote.

Everything done through Microsoft Office Online is performed through a web browser and saved online so you can access the files from anywhere.

What We Like
  • No software download.

  • Opens every file type that MS Office desktop apps support.

  • Share files with anyone.

  • Work with others on a file simultaneously.

  • Free templates.

  • Saves your work automatically.

  • Familiar interface similar to desktop versions.

  • Automatic spell check in Word, OneNote, Calendar, and Outlook.

What We Don't Like
  • Files must exist in OneDrive before being used.

  • Can't check for spelling errors in Excel or PowerPoint.

  • 2 GB is the largest supported file size.

  • Unable to save files to their original format.

Microsoft Office Online File Formats

Microsoft Office Online fully supports the following file types, meaning that you can open and save back to these formats:


Take advantage of an export tool that permits the saving of formats like ODT and PDF as a downloaded document. Otherwise, Office Online saves information into OneDrive by default, and it links with your desktop version of Microsoft Office such that your most-recent-files list is synced between the two.

Microsoft Office Online vs. Microsoft Office

The desktop version of Microsoft Office is similar to the online version. Though some features may not be present in the online tool, the overall look and feel are nearly identical. They both contain Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

The major limitation relates to the fullness of the feature set. The desktop apps, by virtue of residing on a hard drive with access to the operating system, contain richer tools for things like inserting complex objects. Although Office Online is certainly a full-featured online productivity suite, no online-only platform generally offers the same capability as a locally installed program.

There's presently no online version of Access or Publisher.

Thoughts on Microsoft Office Online

If you're familiar with the desktop version of Microsoft Office, using Microsoft Office Online is a breeze, as the menus and functions are similar, if not the exact same.

Common file formats are allowed and every single format that Microsoft Office supports is supported in the online version. However, there is a major difference in the way Microsoft Office Online uses these files compared to the desktop version.

Say you're working with someone else on a DOC file that was created in a program like SSuite Office. If you load this DOC file into Microsoft Office Online and attempt to make any edits, the file is automatically converted to DOCX. This means when you save the file and return it to the SSuite Office user, edits can't be made because that office suite doesn't allow DOCX files to be opened.

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