Microsoft has announced that the next version of Microsoft Office will include applications that can be worked off a web browser. Microsoft is said to have confirmed that these applications will work on non-Microsoft web browsers like Safari and Firefox.
This initiative is consistent with Microsoft’s "Software + Services" vision. Software plus Services is Microsoft’s take on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market.
Software as a service (SaaS, typically pronounced ‘sass’) is a model of software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer’s burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support.
With Microsoft services like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and CRM 4.0, organizations big and small now have more choices in how they access and manage enterprise-class software – from entirely Web-based, to entirely on-premise solutions, and anywhere in between.
Having a variety of solutions to choose from gives customers the mobility and flexibility they need to meet constantly evolving business needs. To meet this demand, Microsoft is heading towards a hybrid strategy of "Software plus Services", the goal of which is to empower customers and partners with richer applications, more choices, and greater opportunity through a combination of on-premise software, partner-hosted software, and Microsoft-hosted software.
The web-based Office applications will be light-weight versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. These apps can be accessed anywhere using a web browser from a PC or via a downloadable application on a mobile phone.