Microsoft Office Online is a suite of online applications that lets you create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and more. You can store the documents you create—plus any other files you want—on Microsoft OneDrive, an online file storage service. Both of these tools are accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection, and both are free.
In this lesson, you'll learn more about the features and advantages of Office Online and OneDrive. You'll also get an idea of what to expect from the rest of this tutorial.
OneDrive was previously known as SkyDrive; Office Online was previously known as Office Web Apps. You may occasionally see references to SkyDrive and Office Web Apps while using these services.

What is Office Online?

Office Online is a free basic version of the most popular programs in the Microsoft Office suite. It lets you create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and more without having to buy or install software. There are four Office Online apps:
  • Word: For creating text documents
  • Excel: For working with spreadsheets
  • PowerPoint: For creating presentations
  • OneNote: For taking and organizing notes
Screenshot of Microsoft OneDrive
You don't need to install anything on your computer to use Office Online. Instead, you work with it online using a service called Microsoft OneDrive.

What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is a free online storage space you can use as your own personal online hard drive. When you create a document with Office Online, it will be saved to your OneDrive. You can store other files there too. Some people refer to this type of online storage as the cloud. Since Office Online and OneDrive are based in the cloud, you can access them from any device with an Internet connection at any time.
Check out our lesson on Web Apps and the Cloud to learn more about the basics of cloud computing.
Once you’ve used Office Online and OneDrive to store files in the cloud, you can edit and share them without ever having to download them to your computer. You can also upload files from your computer, including photos and music. You can even sync your computer and OneDrive so any changes you make to your files are automatically copied between the cloud and your computer. As you can see below, working with the cloud makes all of these things possible.
Using the cloud with Windows OneDrive
To use Offline Online and OneDrive, you'll need a Microsoft account. Getting a Microsoft account will also give you access to features like email and instant messaging. You'll learn how to create an account in our lesson on Getting Started with OneDrive.