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Microsoft finally to bring Office to the Web, Windows smart phones

By Eric Lai
October 28, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Capossela said exact pricing won't be available for a while.

Office Web will solve two problems that online competitors such as Google Docs, Zoho Docs and others don't, claimed Capossela. One is that Office Web, unlike non-Microsoft products, can guarantee that the "viewing experience is fantastic" and that formatting and meta data from Office documents don't "get munged up," he said.

Second, Office Web will provide a superior "end-to-end solution" by letting users view and edit documents whenever they want to, including browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari and Windows Mobile smart phones. Microsoft may add support for other non-Windows Mobile smart phones, Mac Office or other Web browsers.

"We want to be No. 1 in productivity, period, so we are constantly assessing the right strategy," Capossela said.

Office Web will use Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet plug-in for added functionality such as extra zooming or prettified fonts, though users aren't required to use it, he said.

Some features from the regular desktop version of Office will be cut from Office Web, said Capossela. Also, Microsoft isn't using the new "ribbon" interface from Office 2007 because it takes up too much space, especially on small smart phone screens. Instead, it's employing a modified version of its more conventional drag-down menus from Office 2003 and earlier, Capossela said.

Microsoft had made several strong hints earlier this year that it was poised to introduce Office Web.

In February, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that Office 14 would be much more Web-friendly.

In April, Microsoft was reportedly close to allowing hosting providers to "stream" Office to end users via the Web.

That same month, it confirmed plans to bring out a low-end Office suite that combines Web-based security services code-named "Albany." Microsoft said in July that consumers can subscribe to the Web/desktop suite, now renamed "Equipt," for $70 per year.

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