Microsoft today unveiled a new Office app that mirrors the recently revamped Office.com website. Windows Insiders can start testing the new app, simply called “Office,” today. The company plans to preinstall the Office app on new Windows 10 devices “starting this summer.”
Last year, Microsoft rebuilt Office.com as a starting point for Microsoft Office users. The company has declared this effort a success, sharing today that “more than 40 percent of Office 365 web users start their work by visiting Office.com.” Microsoft now wants to bring that same experience to the desktop, making the app work for users with Office 365 subscriptions, Office 2019, Office 2016, and/or Office Online.
This is confusing, to say the least. The Office app is basically just mirroring what Office.com already offers. And Microsoft already has an app called “My Office,” which helps users manage their Office 365 subscriptions. The new Office app will replace the My Office app via an automatic update “in the coming months.” You will also be able to download the new Office app from the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft lists the following advantages of the new Office app:
- Quickly switch between apps. See all your Office apps in one place and switch between them with a single click.
- Get back into your work. Jump to your most recently used documents, pinned documents, and documents shared with you — whether they’re on your local machine or stored in OneDrive or SharePoint.
- Find what you need. With Microsoft Search integrated prominently, you can quickly find the apps, documents, people, and sites you need to get your work done.
- Tailor it to your organization. Organizations can apply company branding and integrate other line of business applications through single sign-on to customize the experience for their users.
The first three points are poor arguments. You can do all of that without the Office app by simply using the individual Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on.
The last point, however, shows what this is really all about: the enterprise. Corporations have already started to embrace the new Office.com; many office workers use it to get to the files they need when working remotely or on a non-work computer. The Office app could potentially be another starting point option — or it could just cause more confusion.