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Greetings and Salutations! This post is a continuation of a previous article about Microsoft Office licensing. If you haven't given a read, check it out here.
As discussed in my last blog, Microsoft is moving toward a software as a service model for Office. You can the most of O365 by splitting users in to those power users that need a local installation of Office and getting rid of Office for those that will be perfectly happy with Office Web Apps. For the company, this reduces the cost of purchasing office for everyone and employees get to enjoy a consistent experience on the core Office applications no matter where they are or what device they're on.
Down to Brass Tacks
The core Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) are all available as Office Web Apps. Think of it as Office Lite and is great for lightweight and mobile users. Web Apps have the basics, but all are missing some core functionality.
One hurdle with Office Web Apps is document storage. Most organizations like to keep their documents on a local file server and a lot of workflow and muscle memory has been built around the precious file server. To use Office Web Apps you'll have to keep your documents in OneDrive (personal storage for users) or SharePoint Online (file storage for the organization). Moving documents to the cloud comes with its own amount of overhead for access and just getting buy in and motivation to move and reorganize years and possibly gigabytes of information can be challenging. IT and ownership could have a mutiny on their hands if a migration isn’t done correctly.
Aside from the ease of access that comes with a web-based application there are some other great benefits. With the Office Web Apps we can simultaneously collaborate and work on a document when I'm in the same room with someone or across the country. It's great to be able to hash out an idea and work directly on a document to produce a something faster and more effectively. It's lightyears ahead of typing a word doc and revising it by sending a copy back and forth in an endless RE: chain. It’s a great way for versions to get lost or mixed up.
Can I Ditch Office for Desktop or What?
It’s a mixed bag. I think Office Web Apps are a good fit for those frontline users that aren't generating a lot of documents for the organization and only need to do light editing. Think of roles like customer service, sales, dispatch or those whose job is not document production. Admins, attorneys, accountants, and generally back office positions would benefit more from having local installations of Office, but it's always nice to have the web app available as an option.