Microsoft Office goes online

Microsoft is looking to add new online features to its Office applications within the next year or so, according to reports in the FT.

Jeff Raikes, head of the business and server divisions, said Microsoft would offer online services that would extend the capabilities of the desktop software suite, currently used by around 500 million people.

The most likely first step will be to let Office users share documents and spreadsheets they have created on their PCs over the web, according to analysts.

The move would overcome a major shortcoming of Microsoft applications compared to web-based packages such as those run by Google, Rob Helm, a Microsoft analyst said.

Helm added that full online versions of Microsoft’s Office applications are likely to follow, but not for at least three years.

Helm told the FT: “”We’re probably moving a lot faster than people realise, and…the market isn’t moving as fast as some of the competitors would like to make people perceive.”

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, announced plans to make online applications a core part of its business some two months ago, stepping up to challenge Microsoft’s traditional PC software business.

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