|Initial release||November 19, 1990; 29 years ago (1990-11-19)|
|Office 365||2006 (16.0.13001.20384) / July 14, 2020; 2 months ago (2020-07-14)|
|One-time purchase||2019 (16.0) / September 24, 2018; 2 years ago (2018-09-24)|
|Written in||C++ (back-end)|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
|Standard(s)||Office Open XML (ISO/IEC 29500)|
|Available in||102 languages|
|License||Trialware, volume licensing or SaaS|
Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac apps from top left to bottom right: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
|Initial release||August 1, 1989; 31 years ago (1989-08-01)|
|Written in||C++ (back-end), Objective-C (API/UI)|
Classic Mac OS (discontinued)
|Available in||16 languages|
|License||Proprietarycommercial software (retail, volume licensing, SaaS)|
|Website|| office.com |
Microsoft Office, or simply Office, is a family of client software, server software, and services developed by Microsoft. It was first announced by Bill Gates on August 1, 1988, at COMDEX in Las Vegas. Initially a marketing term for an office suite (bundled set of productivity applications), the first version of Office contained Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Over the years, Office applications have grown substantially closer with shared features such as a common spell checker, OLE data integration and Visual Basic for Applications scripting language. Microsoft also positions Office as a development platform for line-of-business software under the Office Business Applications brand. On July 10, 2012, Softpedia reported that Office was being used by over a billion people worldwide.
Office is produced in several versions targeted towards different end-users and computing environments. The original, and most widely used version, is the desktop version, available for PCs running the Windows and macOSoperating systems. Microsoft also maintains mobile apps for Android and iOS. Office on the web is a version of the software that runs within a web browser.
Since Office 2013, Microsoft has promoted Office 365 as the primary means of obtaining Microsoft Office: it allows the use of the software and other services on a subscription business model, and users receive feature updates to the software for the lifetime of the subscription, including new features and cloud computing integration that are not necessarily included in the "on-premises" releases of Office sold under conventional license terms. In 2017, revenue from Office 365 overtook conventional license sales.
The current on-premises, desktop version of Office is Office 2019, released on September 24, 2018.
Core apps and services
- Microsoft Word: a word processor included in Microsoft Office and some editions of the now-discontinued Microsoft Works. The first version of Word, released in the autumn of 1983, was for the MS-DOS operating system and introduced the computer mouse to more users. Word 1.0 could be purchased with a bundled mouse, though none was required. Following the precedents of LisaWrite and MacWrite, Word for Macintosh attempted to add closer WYSIWYG features into its package. Word for Mac was released in 1985. Word for Mac was the first graphical version of Microsoft Word. Initially, it implemented the proprietary .doc format as its primary format. Word 2007, however, deprecated this format in favor of Office Open XML, which was later standardized by Ecma International as an open format. Support for Portable Document Format (PDF) and OpenDocument (ODF) was first introduced in Word for Windows with Service Pack 2 for Word 2007.
- Microsoft Excel: a spreadsheet editor that originally competed with the dominant Lotus 1-2-3 and eventually outsold it. Microsoft released the first version of Excel for the Mac OS in 1985 and the first Windows version (numbered 2.05 to line up with the Mac) in November 1987.
- Microsoft PowerPoint: a presentation program used to create slideshows composed of text, graphics, and other objects, which can be displayed on-screen and shown by the presenter or printed out on transparencies or slides.
- Microsoft Outlook (not to be confused with Outlook Express, Outlook.com or Outlook on the web): a personal information manager that replaces Windows Messaging, Microsoft Mail, and Schedule+ starting in Office 97; it includes an e-mail client, calendar, task manager and address book. On the Mac OS, Microsoft offered several versions of Outlook in the late 1990s, but only for use with Microsoft Exchange Server. In Office 2001, it introduced an alternative application with a slightly different feature set called Microsoft Entourage. It reintroduced Outlook in Office 2011, replacing Entourage.
- Microsoft OneNote: a notetaking program that gathers handwritten or typed notes, drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network. OneNote was initially introduced as a standalone app that was not included in any Microsoft Office 2003 edition. However, OneNote eventually became a core component of Microsoft Office; with the release of Microsoft Office 2013, OneNote was included in all Microsoft Office offerings. OneNote is also available as a web app on Office on the web, a freemium (and later freeware) Windows desktop app, a mobile app for Windows Phone, iOS, Android, and Symbian, and a Metro-style app for Windows 8 or later.
- Microsoft OneDrive: A file hosting service that allows users to sync files and later access them from a web browser or mobile device.
- Skype for Business: an integrated communications client for conferences and meetings in real-time, it is the only Microsoft Office desktop app that is neither useful without a proper network infrastructure nor has the "Microsoft" prefix in its name.
- Microsoft Teams: a platform that combines workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. Microsoft announced that Teams would eventually replace Skype for Business.
- Office: A unified Office mobile app for Android and iOS, which combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single app and introduces new capabilities as making quick notes, signing PDFs, scanning QR codes, and transferring files.
- Office Lens: An image scanner optimized for mobile devices. It captures the document (e.g. business card, paper, whiteboard) via the camera and then straightens the document portion of the image. The result can be exported to Word, OneNote, PowerPoint or Outlook, or saved in OneDrive, sent via Mail or placed in Photo Library.
- Office Remote: Turns the mobile device into a remote control for desktop versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Office on the web
Office on the web is a free lightweight web version of Microsoft Office and primarily includes three web applications: Word, Excel and Powerpoint. The offering also includes Outlook.com, OneNote and OneDrive which are accessible through a unified app switcher. Users can install the on-premises version of this service, called Office Online Server, in private clouds in conjunction with SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Lync Server.
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the web can all natively open, edit, and save Office Open XML files (docx, xlsx, pptx) as well as OpenDocument files (odt, ods, odp). They can also open the older Office file formats (doc, xls, ppt), but will be converted to the newer Open XML formats if the user wishes to edit them online. Other formats cannot be opened in the browser apps, such as CSV in Excel or HTML in Word, nor can Office files that are encrypted with a password be opened. Files with macros can be opened in the browser apps, but the macros cannot be accessed or executed. Starting on July 2013, Word can render PDF documents or convert them to Microsoft Word documents, although the formatting of the document may deviate from the original. Since November 2013, the apps have supported real-time co-authoring and autosaving files.
Office on the web lacks a number of the advanced features present in the full desktop versions of Office, including lacking the programs Access and Publisher entirely. However, users are able to select the command "Open in Desktop App" that brings up the document in the desktop version of Office on their computer or device to utilize the advanced features there.
Supported web browsers include Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer 11, the latest versions of Firefox or Google Chrome, as well as Safari for OS X 10.8 or later.
The Personal edition of Office on the web is available to the general public free of charge with a Microsoft account through the Office.com website, which superseded SkyDrive (now OneDrive) and Office Live Workspace. Enterprise-managed versions are available through Office 365. In February 2013, the ability to view and edit files on SkyDrive without signing in was added. The service can also be installed privately in enterprise environments as a SharePoint app, or through Office Web Apps Server. Microsoft also offers other web apps in the Office suite, such as the Outlook Web App (formerly Outlook Web Access), Lync Web App (formerly Office Communicator Web Access), Project Web App (formerly Project Web Access). Additionally, Microsoft offers a service under the name of Online Doc Viewer to view Office documents on a website via Office on the web.
There are free extensions available to use Office on the web directly in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
Most versions of Microsoft Office (including Office 97 and later) use their own widget set and do not exactly match the native operating system. This is most apparent in Microsoft Office XP and 2003, where the standard menus were replaced with a colored, flat-looking, shadowed menu style. The user interface of a particular version of Microsoft Office often heavily influences a subsequent version of Microsoft Windows. For example, the toolbar, colored buttons and the gray-colored 3D look of Office 4.3 were added to Windows 95, and the ribbon, introduced in Office 2007, has been incorporated into several programs bundled with Windows 7 and later. In 2012, Office 2013 replicated the flat, box-like design of Windows 8.
Users of Microsoft Office may access external data via connection-specifications saved in Office Data Connection (.odc) files.
Both Windows and Office use service packs to update software. Office had non-cumulative service releases, which were discontinued after Office 2000 Service Release 1.
Past versions of Office often contained Easter eggs. For example, Excel 97 contained a reasonably functional flight-simulator.
File formats and metadata
Microsoft Office prior to Office 2007 used proprietary file formats based on the OLE Compound File Binary Format. This forced users who share data to adopt the same software platform. In 2008, Microsoft made the entire documentation for the binary Office formats freely available for download and granted any possible patents rights for use or implementations of those binary format for free under the Open Specification Promise. Previously, Microsoft had supplied such documentation freely but only on request.
Starting with Office 2007, the default file format has been a version of Office Open XML, though different than the one standardized and published by Ecma International and by ISO/IEC. Microsoft has granted patent rights to the formats technology under the Open Specification Promise and has made available free downloadable converters for previous versions of Microsoft Office including Office 2003, Office XP, Office 2000 and Office 2004 for Mac OS X. Third-party implementations of Office Open XML exist on the Windows platform (LibreOffice, all platforms), macOS platform (iWork '08, NeoOffice, LibreOffice) and Linux (LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org 3.0). In addition, Office 2010, Service Pack 2 for Office 2007, and Office 2016 for Mac supports the OpenDocument Format (ODF) for opening and saving documents – only the old ODF 1.0 (2006 ISO/IEC standard) is supported, not the 1.2 version (2015 ISO/IEC standard).
Microsoft provides the ability to remove metadata from Office documents. This was in response to highly publicized incidents where sensitive data about a document was leaked via its metadata. Metadata removal was first available in 2004, when Microsoft released a tool called Remove Hidden Data Add-in for Office 2003/XP for this purpose. It was directly integrated into Office 2007 in a feature called the Document Inspector.
A major feature of the Office suite is the ability for users and third party companies to write add-ins (plug-ins) that extend the capabilities of an application by adding custom commands and specialized features. One of the new features is the Office Store.Plugins and other tools can be downloaded by users. Developers can make money by selling their applications in the Office Store. The revenue is divided between the developer and Microsoft where the developer gets 80% of the money. Developers are able to share applications with all Office users.
Microsoft Office has a security feature that allows users to encrypt Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Skype Business) documents with a user-provided password. The password can contain up to 255 characters and uses AES 128-bit advanced encryption by default. Passwords can also be used to restrict modification of the entire document, worksheet or presentation. Due to lack of document encryption, though, these passwords can be removed using a third-party cracking software.
All versions of Microsoft Office products before Microsoft Office 2019 are eligible for ten years of support following their release, during which Microsoft releases security updates for the product version and provides paid technical support. The ten-year period is divided into two five-year phases: The mainstream phase and the extended phase. During the mainstream phase, Microsoft may provide limited complimentary technical support and release non-security updates or change the design of the product. During the extended phase, said services stop. Office 2019 only receives 5 years of mainstream and 2 years of extended support.
Timelines of support
Timeline of Microsoft Office for Windows
- (Spent) standard support
- (Remaining) standard support
- (Spent) extended support
- (Remaining) extended support