Office Online becomes ‘Office’, just to confuse everyone

Microsoft says we should stop calling the browser-based version of their apps ‘Office Online’.  It’s now just ‘Office’.

‘Word Online’ is now just ‘Word’.  ‘Excel Online’ is ‘Excel’, ‘PowerPoint Online’ is merely  ‘PowerPoint’.

Make sense? No, we don’t understand either.

Microsoft’s explanation of the name change doesn’t help. According to Microsoft they are doing this:

“Because our offerings have evolved to provide access to apps on more than one platform, it no longer makes sense to use any platform-specific sub-brands. “

Really? The fact that Office is available on six different platforms makes ‘platform-specific sub-brands’  MORE necessary, not less.  Sure, Office is sold as a single Office 365 package but each part of that package needs a distinct name.

Now we’re told that the broad name for the product ‘Office’ must also apply to one of the versions or platforms …. and one of the lesser versions at that.

(Imagine a car maker deciding that an existing model called, say, ‘Corolla’ or ‘Buick’ is now to be called ‘Car’.  That’s the level of stupidity we’re seeing in this impractical edict.)

This announcement comes from some broad marketing delusion which ignores current practice, past history and the needs of customers or Microsoft’s own support staff.

There’s enough confusion already with the broad name ‘Outlook’ without clarity about whether it’s the Outlook.com service, Outlook for Windows or Mac programs and the various Outlook apps.

What to call browser-based Office?

Sometimes even Microsoft realizes they need to be specific, talking about the browser-based version of Office. Microsoft’s decree gives three options for that.

  • … on the web
  • … on Office.com
  • … in a browser

As in ‘Office on the web’, ‘Word on Office.com’  or ‘Excel in a browser’

Three alternatives suggests that, having decided to rename Office Online, the massed Microsoft mind could not decide on an proper alternative.

“We encourage people to use whichever terminology is most appropriate and provides the most clarity for a given context.”

If Microsoft truly wanted to give ‘clarity’ they’d give each Office variant a single, unique name.  Oh wait, that’s what Redmond has always done until this pronouncement.

Office ≈ Office for Windows

For as long as there’s been two Microsoft Office platforms (Windows and Mac) the name ‘Office’ was shorthand for ‘Office for Windows’.  That’s sometimes confusing but is so commonplace that it’s hard to fight.

Even today, Microsoft staff talk and write about ‘Office’ when they mean ‘Office for Windows’.  Other flavors of Office are specified ‘Office for Mac’, ‘Office for Android’ etc.

No diktat from Microsoft management will change that. People need a clear naming for each variation of Office, not matter what some ‘Softies might like to think.

Ignore Microsoft

Customers and even Microsoft’s own front-line support and sales staff will ignore this edict. It’s impractical, nonsensical and just plain daft.