Microsoft Fluid is about to make Office better than Google Docs

Microsoft Fluid
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Fluid is a new Office framework ready to take document collaboration in the cloud to the next level, from what we saw at the Microsoft Build 2020 event.

Fluid, introduced at the company's streaming event, isn't just an Office document, but a document built out of a series of interactive blocks for components like tables, lists, graphs, and the like. These elements can be edited by any Office user invited to edit them and they can be edited in any Office app.

What's more, the components don't live in any one specific document, so if you have a graph or table you want to include in a report written in Word, but also use it in a PowerPoint presentation that accompanies the report, you only need one component for both.

Importantly, these components aren't finalized after they've been added to a document, so you can stick them in the document and as users edit the Fluid component, the component in your specific document will be updated automatically, whether or not you are editing the document at the time. 

Taking a cue from Google Docs, Microsoft has moved more toward the collaborative shareable document model that has grown in popularity over the last decade. The Fluid component itself lives on the web and demonstrates how Microsoft is pushing to break out of the restrictive desktop application paradigm that even Google Docs, Sheets, and other apps are still tethered to. 

Microsoft Fluid open-source

Microsoft will also make Fluid components open-source, allowing the community to build on the framework to innovate the technology to new heights and accelerate their adoption. Their adoption of open-source development continues their acceptance of the movement that even a decade ago would have been anathema. 

With Microsoft's Edge browser rebuild being based on the open-source Chromium (the open-source tech that is also the foundation of Google's Chrome browser), moving Office into the open-source realm is a logical step.

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).