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Browser extension brings Office docs to Chrome

Microsoft Office documents are heading to Google's Chrome browser.

Google has announced the availability of a new Google Chrome extension that lets you open Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files right in your browser with a single click. The Chrome Office Viewer is available now in beta and compatible with the Windows and Mac versions of Chrome.

"If you use a Chromebook, you've already been enjoying the ability to open Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files directly in your browser," Google software engineer Jelte Liebrand wrote in a Thursday post on the Chrome blog. "Starting today, we're excited to bring this same functionality to Chrome on Windows and Mac."

The extension should save you some time considering the glacial pace it typically takes Offices files to open. Plus, besides just saving you precious seconds, the Chrome Office Viewer has the added benefit of protecting against malware delivered via Office files.

"Just like with Web pages and PDFs, we've added a specialized sandbox to impede attackers who use compromised Office files to try to steal private information or monitor your activities," Liebrand wrote.

Users should note that the extension requires the latest beta of the Chrome browser, and will not work with the current stable release. Users may, naturally, experience some bugs when using the extension since it's still in beta. Google is asking users who find any issues to click the "report an issue" button while viewing the file to report the bug.

Meanwhile on the security front, Google earlier this month extended its malicious download warnings on Chrome to malware that might alter how your browser handles extensions. The new layer of security helps protect against a category of malware that misuses Chrome's central management settings to get around silent installation blockers.