Microsoft isn’t standing still as other companies try to reinvent the document editor.
On Tuesday, the company announced Microsoft Loop, a new Office app that takes clear inspiration from online collaborative editors, such as Notion and Coda. There’s a sidebar for toggling between pages, interactive elements including charts and task lists, and the ability to move parts of a document around by dragging and dropping.
But while those other editors want to eliminate Office files entirely, Microsoft acknowledges their persistence by integrating them with Loop. Users can add links to traditional Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and they’ll appear in the sidebar and as stylized thumbnails inside of Loop pages. The idea, self-serving as it may be for Microsoft, is that you might still want to create distinct document files that live alongside Loop’s free-flowing pages.
In a blog post, Microsoft 365 General Manager Wangui McKelvey acknowledged that people are looking beyond the confines of Office for their document-editing needs as the world moves to remote and hybrid work.
“New kinds of content, formats, and channels demanded more flexible, powerful, and fluid tools to allow everyone to deliver a more impactful message and collaborate at their own pace,” McKelvey wrote. “So, Microsoft Office is changing with the times.”
Microsoft isn’t the only one rethinking its approach to the document editor as tools like Notion gain traction. Google is adding similar concepts to Google Docs, including interactive checklists and quick linking to other documents via an @ symbol. In August, Monday launched a document editor with drag-and-drop elements, and Box plans to revamp its Notes product with anchor links and overhauled tables next year. Last month, Notion announced that it has 20 million users; its sudden popularity may have caught larger companies by surprise.
Still, it’s unclear when Microsoft’s answer will be ready. The company says it will share more details on Microsoft Loop’s availability “in the upcoming months.”