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Microsoft releases the new Office 2013

The new Office suite from Microsoft Corp was launched last Tuesday, providing more enhancements to the reliable  Office software, as well as offering an online option to consumers to access their documents from all devices.

The Office software is the most profitable product from Microsoft.  The software giant wants to maintain the dominance of its software by giving users more options to access their documents through mobile devices as well. The new pack still includes the traditional programs like Excel, Word, Outlook email client, and PowerPoint. The suite’s market are home users, who Microsoft hoped, would continue its domination of the current worldwide workplace. The Redmond-based tech giant is also keeping its lead against the growing popularity of Google’s free online apps.

Called the Office 365 Home Premium, the suite offers the all the latest Office applications and is designed to work with up to 5 devices that includes Macs and PCs. The pack also provides free access to Skype calling and SkyDrive storage, at an annual subscription price of $99.99.

The thrust to make the suite more mobile friendly is evident.

Microsoft’s Office division chief, Kurt DelBene, said, “”The notion of an always up-to-date streaming version of Office comes directly from how people are using devices today. You really want all your content to roam with you. We see that as an opportunity to deliver what customers are asking for.”

“Today’s launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft’s transformation to a devices and services business,” CEO Steve Ballmer said yesterday. “This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits.”

The new Office 365 Home Premium is a complete overhaul of the Office suite beginning 2010. Large companies who have been regularly using Microsoft’s products by buying multi-year contracts, received the latest features of the new suite last December.

Individual and household users were able to see the latest features yesterday. Initial reactions from users in Microsoft’s Seattle store were all positive.

In line with the release, Microsoft also revealed that more additional features will be delivered to the cloud first, a big break from the company’s traditional three-year release schedule. This means that new features and more services will be streamed to users as soon as they are ready for release, eliminating the need to manually upgrade the software.

“This is a major leap forward,” DelBene said. “People’s needs change rapidly, and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them.”

The new Office suite also caters to needs of college and university students, and faculty and staff by offering a four-year subscription package for only $79.99.

Users in other regions worldwide will also receive updated versions of the standard Office suite that includes Office Home and Business 2013, Office Home and Student 2013, and Office Professional 2013. business customers will get the full upgrade this coming February 27.


Countering Google

The new Office suite has been in development for two years as Microsoft sees the growing threat of Google Apps, an array of cloud-based Office-patterned apps that the search giant provides to customers for free and to businesses for $50 for every user annually.

Microsoft aims be competitive in online services as it introduces its new Surface tablets. The current leaders in providing online services includes Google and Apple.

Research director of Current Analysis Avi Greengart, said: “Microsoft Office remains the gold standard for productivity applications. It is bringing Office fully into today’s connected, cloud-based environment. But it still has more work to do to make it fully finger-friendly for use on its own Windows tablets.”

The Office 2013 suite is designed to run seamlessly on Microsoft Surface tablets. It is not, however, designed to work natively on Apple’s iPad, which irked some Office fans using the popular iPad tablets.

DelBene hinted that Microsoft does not plan not to do rich client software on iPads though.

“We’ve been very logical in our approach. I’m pleased with the software we have delivered for the iPad to date.”

Currently, Microsoft’s OneNote software and SkyDrive cloud storage feature are available for iPad users, though some Office  applications are not readily available.

Microsoft’s hesitant attitude to offer full support of its Office products to iPads is obviously driven by the idea that it would take away a big chunk from sales numbers  of its own Surface tablet.

Microsoft forecast that around 1 billion people around the world will be using one way or another its new Office suite. The figure makes Office as the company’s flagship product, overtaking its Windows unit for the past few years now.  Office gives Microsoft more than 50 percent of its overall profit.

Demand for the older Office suite slowed down last quarter as consumers waited for the release of Office 13, though analysts estimate that sales will pick up again this quarter.

Office 365 Home Premium will be offered in 162 markets and in 21 languages around the world. The pack offers the following:

-Single license for a household that will run Office 2013 on up to 5 devices like Macs, PCs, and tablets

-The latest apps like Publisher, Access, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, and Word

-Additional 60 minutes of free Skype calling every month for calls made to PCs, landlines, and mobiles around the world

-Free 20 GB SkyDrive cloud storage, or nearly three times as much as the free SkyDrive offering

-All the upgrades for the suite in the future

source: Microsoft | Reuters

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