Microsoft Office Online Review

This free platform offers functionality similar to desktop apps

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

Everything done through the online version of MS Office is performed through a web browser and saved online, so you can access the files from anywhere.

Microsoft Office online apps menu
What We Like
  • No software download.

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

  • Share and collaborate.

  • Free templates.

  • Saves your work automatically.

  • Familiar interface similar to desktop versions.

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

  • Spell check doesn't always work.

  • Can't always save back to the original format.

Using Office Online

When you visit and log in with your Microsoft account, there's a menu, like you see above, that provides access to all the apps you're offered. This is how you access Excel online, or Word, or Outlook, etc.

When you select an app, you'll be taken to it immediately, where you can then create and edit files already in your account, and upload new ones (there's 1 TB of available space). For example, Excel Online has an Upload button where you can select an XLS, XLSX, XLB, CSV, or other supported file from your computer.

MS Office Excel online
Excel Online.

Office Online also makes it really easy to share files and work on documents with other people in real time. Links can be shared that anyone can open for viewing or collaborating, and you can set a password for security. They don't even need their own Microsoft account.

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:


Other files are supported, too, such as CSV, but after editing it, if you want to save it back to your computer, you need to pick XLSX or XLSM.

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

Microsoft Office Online vs. Microsoft Office

The desktop version of Office is similar to the online one. While 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 Office on your desktop, using the online version 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 Office supports is supported in the online version. However, there's a major difference in the way 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 Office Online and attempt to make any edits, the file is automatically converted to DOCX. This means when you save it and return it to the SSuite user, edits can't be made because that office suite doesn't allow DOCX files to be opened.

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