How Microsoft Re-Invented Office for Touch, Social and the Cloud, via @davidmerzel’s BLOG
Since start of Sept 2012, I have the chance to work for Office (Consumer / SMB) in Latin America from Fort Lauderdale (USA).
This is a great personal experience with my spouse and kids to move from Belgium to USA.
It’s also a great opportunity to live from inside this fantastic launch and I learn every days so much
I’ve seen an excellent article, regarding Office in Mashbale http://mashable.com/2012/09/25/office-2013-reinvent/ and I reaaly wanted to share it with you.
Here-below, I share with you this article.
In tech, apps come and go. Anyone working in publishing in the 1990s and early 2000s saw Aldus PageMaker give way to QuarkXPress, which eventually ceded to Adobe InDesign. No matter how good any app may be at a given time, technology doesn’t stop advancing, which in turn changes people’s needs. That opens up opportunities for more nimble competitors to win over customers with apps that better serve those needs.
Until recently, Microsoft Office has been fairly immune to this cycle. It’s been a mainstay of productivity software for more than 20 years — if you’ve worked with electronic documents at all, chances are you’re more than familiar with it.
However, the rise of mobile devices and cloud computing allows competitors to chip away at the office empire. Many people now turn to free and mobile-friendly alternatives, like Google Drive or QuickOffice for building documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
But there’s a reason Office was the go-to productivity software for more than two decades: Microsoft can adapt. And it’s doing so in a big way for the next version of Office, called Office 2013, which works hand in hand with Windows 8, set for a big debut this fall. Windows 8 re-invents the computing experience for touch screens, social networks and the cloud — and the new Office takes full advantage of that modern tech trinity.
“It’s going to start with how people get Office,” says P.J. Hough, Microsoft’s vice president of Office program management. “We’re going to stream Office to every user. We’ve done a lot of work to make the streaming incredibly fast. It’s single-digit minutes to get Office installed and up and running on your computer.”
Office 2013 doesn’t just download once and rest on your computer, either. Hough says the new Office will be as much as service as an app, with continual updates via the network. Microsoft’s also changing the how it sells the software — instead of buying it once, users will now subscribe, with different plans for personal and business use.
“It actually changes the relationship with the customer,” Hough says. “Your computer stops owning Office and you personally own Office. If you get a new computer and you’re a subscriber, office goes on the new computer. I go to office.com, I sign in, I say I want Office on this computer and we stream it down.”
The cloud also plays a big role in Office 2013. The default location for all saved documents will now be Microsoft’s cloud-storage service, SkyDrive, so you’ll be able to pick up documents right where you left off when you switch machines. In addition, content-based features that used to be delivered locally, such as document templates for Word and PowerPoint, will now be powered by the cloud.“We’ve already done a lot of this work with Office 365, our enterprise offering, but this is taking that same cloud-driven view of Office to the consumer” says Hough. “[Office 2013] is backed by relevant services — SkyDrive, Skype — so we think there’s an equivalent experience that I want as a consumer, that’s online and connected.”
However, Hough stresses that Office 2013 works just as you’d expect when you’re offline. The apps are installed locally, and work will get saved even if you’re off the network and set up to save to SkyDrive.
The re-invented Office also integrates social networks much more closely. While in previous years, social networking may have been looked at as a distraction from productivity, it’s become clear that Microsoft sees the value in being able to easily connect with contacts, colleagues and collaborators.
“Sometimes, the way that I get work done is not by starting work on an artefact, but by finding a person first,” Hough says. “Our acquisition of Yammer is yet more evidence of the merging together of social with productivity. They’re not two separate things. It’s not a waste of time to have a feed that shows you what people are working on or lets you get in touch with people easily.”
It’s Outlook that exhibits Office’s new social abilities the most, calling up a contact’s schedule and recent projects when you address them in an email. But Word and PowerPoint are more social, too, with improved ways to collaborate on documents with better organized footnotes and a streamlined Track Changes feature.
Finally, there was the hardware to consider. The new Office is made to work on both traditional PCs as well as tablets. That includes both full-functioning Windows tablets — which will run old Windows 7 apps — and the new Windows RT devices, which will come with a free version of Office. However, to unlock many abilities, such as seamless saving to the cloud, you’ll need to subscribe.
The big change in a tablet environment is the inclusion of touch interfaces. PowerPoint, for example, now supports pinch to zoom and typical gestures. The backbone of Office 2013 also benefits from improvements in Windows 8 to make sure apps respond quickly and properly to every tap and swipe.
“We’ve made a bet this time around in Office on graphics hardware acceleration — work that the Windows team did in Windows 7 that they’ve really doubled down on in Windows 8,” Hough says. “It’s allowed us to build a set of apps in Office that are responsive and fluid.”
Are all these improvements enough to keep competitors at bay and ensure Microsoft Office dominates for another decade? That’s the plan, and Microsoft has included many new features in Office 2013 — such as Excel predicting exactly what table you want and apps that can integrate real-time data — that competitors will find tough to match.
Has Office 2013 impressed you? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments