Microsoft made available on Wednesday a new version of its popular Microsoft Office software – Office 2010 – and said that the suite’s components, which include the Word word processor, Excel spreadsheet, and PowerPoint presentation software, can now be used through web browsers.

The online versions of the Microsoft’s applications, called “Web Apps,” allow for “easy access to documents from virtually anywhere” and “help preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device, so content and format are generally preserved while moving between the PC, phone and browser,” the software giant said.

“With the 2010 set of products, organization will save, innovate and grow as their people benefit from working across the PC, phone and browser,” said Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s business division, in a statement.

Microsoft’s move to offer web-based versions, or “cloud” versions, of its products is widely seen as a direct counter to Google, which has offered office applications over the web for years.

The web-based versions of the Microsoft office productivity products are available to all Office volume licensing customers. Customers can also purchase Web Apps on a subscription basis.

Microsoft said it added a number of other upgrades with Office 2010, including advanced e-mail management and calendaring and the ability to bring communications history and social networking feeds into its Outlook e-mail and personal information management product.


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