Microsoft Office users will be offered new ways to access their applications online said Bill Gates. The Microsoft chairman said that the next issue of Office, code-named Office 14, would offer limited capabilities to view and edit the data in Office applications.

The company already does something similar for Outlook with a product called Outlook Web Access, and it will offer similar capabilities for other applications in Office 14, Gates said in a speech at the Microsoft Office System Developer Conference in San Jose, California.

"Outlook Web Access is not the full version of Office, but if you want to go into a kiosk or an Internet cafe and browse and connect, it gives you plenty of functionality," he said. "As we look at all the modules [in Office 14] we have in mind the equivalent of Outlook Web Access," Gates said.

It was the first time Microsoft had confirmed the "Office 14" moniker for the next release, although the Windows enthusiast website AeroXperience reported that fact recently, citing an internal Microsoft document. It also reported that a beta of Office 14 would appear this year, with commercial release planned for 2009.

Gates did not a give a planned release date for Office 14, however.

Outlook Web Access is a part of Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007 software, and it was unclear how the other Office 14 applications would be packaged and delivered. Gates did say that SharePoint Server, which is becoming more closely aligned with Office, "will be able to render a greater set of Office documents in an HTML environment."