Similar to it’s "Windows everywhere" mantra, Microsoft is pushing ahead with the notion that users should be able to access Office from anywhere. Over the past couple of years, the company has been fine-tuning its web app experience while also building more native mobile experiences in conjunction with its everything-under-the-sun PC powerhouse application suite.
Needless to say, if someone wanted to use Office, they are no longer limited by the antiqued process of venturing to their local computer specialist store and selecting a seemingly overpriced boxed version of the software. The Office team is now taking it a step further and offering Office functionality through the browser through a new extension.
Not to be mistaken with web apps, the new Office extension for the Edge browser offers users quick access to the productivity suite without having to navigate to their online account or download apps to their computers.
Note: Downloading and installing the Office extension currently is limited to Windows 10 Insider preview build 14366.rs1 for PCs.
We’ve covered how to install extensions on the Edge browser before, and we encourage those who are interested to read one our earlier post. With that said, getting the Office extension for the Edge browser is a pretty straight forward affair.
Once the extension is turned on in the Edge browser, the familiar Office icon should be nestled at the top among other installed extensions.
Upon opening the extension for the first time, users are asked where they would like to store any of the subsequent files or documents they will create using the Office extension. Options include:
- OneDrive for Business
As expected, the options are limited to Microsoft’s cloud for the moment.
Since the extension treats the first installation as new interaction with a user’s account, the familiar Let this app access your info page appears. Barring any alarming oversteps from the request, clicking on yes will send most users off to the races with using the new extension.
Using Office on Edge
Once again, the Office team has made it pretty straightforward for users to quickly begin using the extension to create documents with their browsing experience. A quick call up to the extension and users are met with a New, Open, Account, and Settings pane.
Selecting New will open a drop down menu where users can choose to create a new Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, OneNote Online and Sway document.
Selecting Open will bring up a menu that includes From OneDrive and a Browse option that users can select to grab existing documents or files from.
Selecting the Account option, users are met with a Sign Out option. Presumably, users can switch accounts for different browsing sessions using this option.
The Settings menu is pretty lackluster, only giving users the option to Automatically send data to help us improve our products. However, for those who might fear being tracked or part of Microsoft’s data analysis, visiting this option enables them to unselect the automatically selected option to do so.
Moving on to the actual productivity
Once users are ready to create a new document or open an existing, selecting the appropriate option will bring up a familiar Office Online experience.
The early days of this extension are as billed, an easy and quick way to extend a user’s Office experience from the browser. Most of the heavy lifting is done by Office Online, to which users will need to at least sign up for. Fortunately, Office Online is free with a OneDrive or Microsoft account for most, and now, users will benefit from a connected experience using the Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10.
Presumably, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be home to this extension and additional functionality in the Edge browser for all users, during its release in late July of this year.