Cloud Ready Microsoft Office 2013 – Can it Still Dominate?

Microsoft has officially unveiled a preliminary version of office suite, Office 2013, which is schedule for release this autumn. The new Office has implemented support for new operating system Windows 8, touch base sensor interfaces, as well as SkyDrive cloud services.

Microsoft Office, the next version of its Office software has been developed to suit different devices, including tablets. With emphasis on social and new applications for reading, making notes, meetings and communications and in response to growing global demand for mobile devices and their increasing use in the workplace and home, and the wider dissemination of touch screens and the growing trend in the use of the cloud, the Redmond company presented new version of Office 2013 and a new Office 365.

There will be two versions of the package – Microsoft Office 13 for conventional computers (whether or not the tablet) and Microsoft Office 13 tablets for ARM processor. As usual, the first package includes the updated Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access applications, and the second – only the updated Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and has been redesigned to suit the times to become more social and work online.

More Social and Cloud Ready

Microsoft Office 2013 is closely associated with the cloud service, SkyDrive, which automatically saves all documents in the cloud. Thus, any changes in the document on your work computer will immediately displayed on the home PC and on the Windows Phone. In addition, Office 2013 will automatically synchronize between different computers by its configuration, templates and dictionaries.

Microsoft has moved the emphasis on the user’s ability to subscribe to Office 365 in all at the same time integrating the cloud. In this case the subscriber is allocated 20 gigabytes of free space in SkyDrive. While with online version, you can install as many as 5 computers / tablets, activating and deactivating the device directly into your account.

Microsoft is also introducing Skype and the concept of social collaboration, besides being able to share data on Facebook or other social networks. In addition, Skype will be used to display the online status of contacts in Outlook. With the recent acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft would build a social infrastructure around office suites of products.

“The new, modern Office will provide unprecedented performance and flexibility for both consumers and corporate clients. There is a cloud service, which will be instantly ready for use in conjunction with Windows 8,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. “Modern companies think the cloud first. That’s what it means to have Office as a service.”

Office 2013 is compatible with Microsoft Surface, the new tablet announced by the company, although not confirmed if it will also be available for Android tablets or iPad from Apple.

An update to Microsoft SharePoint include more social and collaborative features, such as contact information for aggregate social feeds and recommendations for reading and sharing documents based on user interests.

“It shows Microsoft that it is a much more mixed world. I’ll get a call that ‘a bunch of our VPs are using iPads and using Dropbox to synchronize confidential documents on the cloud, what do we do?’ This is not a case where IT can tell people, ‘oh no you can’t use it.’ Whatever solution companies buy from Google, Microsoft, IBM or whoever, they have to work with multiple devices people now carry,” Creese said.

Can Office still Rule?

Microsoft’s second biggest revenue comes from Office sales. The company has made up $22.2 billion revenues in 2011. But as there are many low cost and free alternatives office suites become available including Google Docs and shift to cloud based tools continue, Microsoft is slowly losing some of its dominance.

Cloud computing refers to a growing trend towards the provision of software, storage and other services from remote data centers via the web rather than relying on the software or data installed on individual computers.

Google has been working hard to convince users to switch to Google Drive, a suite of applications that run on Google’s servers, accessible in the cloud and mobile devices. Apple has been touting its ability to perform iPad tasks of Office.

Meanwhile, analysts see this move by Microsoft as a new step ahead of Apple and Google, since the latter suggests that users prefer Google Office Docs.

“This puts Microsoft even further ahead of Apple, in terms of wealth of products, but still leaves the door open for competition to implement a strategy across devices and platforms. And it’s free,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester.

The new Office applications allow users to follow documents and activities as well as share and integrate video or images, highly consistent to figure out that 82% of the world’s online population is involved in social networks.

“We talked about being able to take notes in a digital way, you can read the information in a tablet in Word, we can now read like a magazine in digital format and the ability to make virtual meetings with the click of the mouse or with the click of my finger. You can start a videoconference using high definition, with multiple people doing this meeting where we can share information and projects,” said Jose Gomez Cueto, Global Product Manager Office.

Although Office 365, based on the cloud, today is aimed at business users, it would not be surprised that Microsoft would offer more cloud services to end users from tablet computer.

Ballmer made it clear at the induction of Office that Microsoft is focused on providing services in the cloud and become a world leader in cloud based productivity tools – but Microsoft is also taking a risk by making devices other than the PC. We will have to wait and watch if the company will again be a leader in Office productivity space.

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