With social distancing forcing more people to telecommute or take classes online, many people have lost access to the Microsoft Office app provided by their workplaces or campuses. That’s left a lot of people without a reliable way to continue their work as normal.
And since a one-time Office 365 install costs $150—or $70-$100 annually for multi-device access and account sharing—Microsoft Office is a pricey purchase if you don’t normally work from home. Luckily, many Office programs also have free web-based versions available to anyone with a Microsoft account. The available web apps include:
- Outlook email, contacts, and calendar
Naturally, these web apps require you to be online in order to use them, and their functionality is more limited compared to the paid, offline versions, but they have a few benefits, too. For one, your documents are saved to your OneDrive account so you can hop between devices and continue your work from wherever. The web apps also let you share documents and collaborate with others, which is helpful for those who are working from home for the foreseeable future.
How to use Microsoft’s web apps
- Go to Office.com
- Sign in with your Microsoft account (or create a Microsoft if you don’t have one).
- Once logged in, click the menu icon in the upper left of the page.
- Click the app you want to use from the app menu. It will load in a new browser tab.
If the web apps are missing features that you need or you require offline access, Microsoft offers discounted pricing for students, while other users can try out Office with a 30-day free trial if they haven’t already. We’d suggest checking out the numerous free Office alternatives that exist first, however; most of them can do everything Office does but without the paywall. That said, the Office web apps are going to be the easiest way to keep using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft software for free while you hunker down.