If you regularly need to open Microsoft Office documents in the browser, Google now offers you a new Chrome extension that renders Word, Excel and PowerPoint files directly in the browser. Currently, these documents open in a Drive-based viewer, but after you install the new Chrome Office Viewer (which is officially still in beta), these documents will open directly in the browser.
Until now, this feature was limited to Chromebooks, but now it’s also available for Chrome on Windows and Mac. You do need to run Chrome Beta, however, as it’s not available for the stable release channel of Chrome just yet.
The advantage of this new plug-in (which weighs in at over 20 megabytes), Google says, is that it ensures that you are protected from malware because the files open in a specialized sandbox “to impede attackers who use compromised Office files to try to steal private information or monitor your activities.”
While Google doesn’t say so in today’s announcement, chances are this new feature is at least partially powered by the technology it acquired when it bought Quickoffice last year. When Google launched the Pixel Chromebook in February, it also said it would port Quickoffice to Chrome, using its Native Client technology. Those three months are almost over, so we’ll likely see a bit more from Google with regard to Office documents in the browser.