Microsoft adds Chrome support for online Office apps

Will officially support apps running from SharePoint in SP1, which launches in June

Microsoft will release the first service pack for Office 2010 in late June, when it will for the first time support Google's Chrome running the suite's online applications using SharePoint 2010, the company said Monday.

Previously, Microsoft had set a broader release window of mid-summer for Office 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

A likely release date is June 28; Microsoft issues non-security updates on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

As it usually does, Microsoft will first make Office 2010 SP1 available as a manual download, then three months or more later kick it into Windows Update for automatic installation. Microsoft typically gives corporate customers a 30-day heads up before it starts serving Office service packs through its update services.

Office 2010 SP1 will include the usual roll-up of security and hotfix patches, as well as an unspecified number of improvements and new features.

Among the latter, said Microsoft, is official support for Chrome, a rival of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), for running Office Web Applications (OWA) through SharePoint 2010 SP1, which will also debut next month.

When the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote launched in May 2010, Microsoft limited support to IE, Firefox and Safari, even though the apps ran as advertised within Chrome when run from SkyDrive, the company's online document and file sharing service aimed at consumers and very small businesses.

Microsoft declined to answer questions about the timing of its Chrome support for OWA via SharePoint 2010, including whether there were technical reasons for the delay.

Google and Microsoft have repeatedly knocked heads over each others' online applications for more than a year. In May 2010, Matthew Glotzbach, Google's enterprise product management director, kicked off the public battle by urging companies to forget about upgrading to Office 2010 and calling on them to instead add Google Docs to their mix. "Google Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better," Glotzbach said at the time.

Microsoft quickly countered by saying that Google Docs' integration with Office was inferior to Office Web Applications' and that its rival's claims were "simply not true."

The firms have publicly thrown stones since.

Microsoft will also add printing in Word Web Applications' editing mode to Office 2010 SP1, support for IE9 and inserting charts into Excel's online application.

Users will be able to uninstall the service pack if necessary, a tactic Microsoft first enabled in the suite with Office 2007 SP2 two years ago.

Microsoft's plan to release Office 2010 SP1 puts it on the same pace it used when it shipped SP1 for Office 2007 about 13 months after that suite's launch.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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