Despite Google's best attempts at getting people to switch to Google Docs, much of the world still works in Microsoft Office. It may be a while before Google can win the format wars; but in the meantime, it will make sure Chrome users stay in Chrome when opening Microsoft documents.
Google announced that Chrome Beta for desktop can now open Microsoft Office documents directly in the browser. In other words, all of your Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files can be accessed in the browser without having to open Microsoft Office.
You could interpret this as Google firing a warning shot across Microsoft's bow, but Google says it's only watching out for its users:
In addition to saving you time, the Chrome Office Viewer also protects you from 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.
If you want to start viewing Microsoft Office files in Chrome, you're going to first need the Chrome Beta. You can grab that here. Next up, you're gonna need the Chrome Office Viewer which is also in beta. Google reminds users to help them squash any remaining bugs in the Office Viewer by submitting bug reports whenever things go wrong.