Microsoft Office 2013 and 365 seems to be Microsoft vs Google war. Microsoft unveils new version of Office with cloud option
Microsoft has come out with a new version of office software that can be used through a web browser instead of having numerous programs installed on the computer. The new version is called Office 2013 and can in other words, let people work through the cloud rather than depend on programs saved on the PC.
Microsoft has also plans to offer incentives for people to opt for a Web-based subscription variant known as Office 365.
CEO Steve Ballmer said at a media event Monday at San Francisco’s Metreon Mall about the new Office versions, “Your modern Office thinks cloud first.”
He added, “This is the most ambitious release of Microsoft Office that we’ve ever done,” adding that it represented a “new generation” of one of Microsoft’s most profitable products.
The new Office is designed to work on tablets and other devices with touch screens and is being touted as Microsoft’s boldest response to the era of cloud computing.
A trial version of the software is available for download even now, but the firm has not yet named a price for the full software or shared its release date yet.
Those opting for the subscription would also get a bonus 20 gigabytes of SkyDrive storage capacity on top of the standard seven gigabytes given to new customers. The new subscibers would also have rights to future upgrades as well as to use Office on up to five computers or mobile devices.
The launch of cloud Office is a big cultural shift for Microsoft, the first sign of which was seen with the release of Windows 8, which is also touch-screen friendly and able to run on tablets and smartphones. The release of Surface tablet is also another major sign in this paradigm shift for the firm.
Analysts are viewing this as Microsoft’s attempt to target customers as opposed to businesses with their new products.
Rob Helm, an analyst with independent research firm Directions on Microsoft, said, “For a long time, Office’s audience has been companies. Now those companies’ users have risen up and taken control of how they use technology, to a large extent. Microsoft is trying to get ahead of where those consumers are going.
“The question is: Are they catching up fast enough,” he went on to add, “I think they’re headed in the right direction. But technology is moving so fast it may not be possible for Office to keep up.”
Another good that would come with cloud computing is that Microsoft would be releasing updates more often now , say every six months rather than its traditional three year updates.
Helms praised this, saying, “If Microsoft starts turning out Office not every three years but every six months, its chances of catching up look lots better.”
Most analysts agree that with the new options Microsoft would now be competing with Google’s apps. The new version of Office is also not a great attraction, quite logically since they are targeted more at the individual consumer rather than businesses.
Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, which studies workplace communication and collaboration tools, stated, “I think it was more evolutionary than revolutionary. Certainly, Microsoft has had to compete against Google Apps for a while now. This was a significant step in that competition.”