NEWS ANALYSIS: The Cloud-focused Office 2013 is a critical component in Microsoft's effort to fend off incursions by Apple and Google into its core enterprise market.
When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced
the next version of the companys ubiquitous business application suite, Microsoft
, you wouldnt know that a stand-alone version of Microsoft
Office would even exist. The whole presentation was about the glories of the
cloud-centric products, and how they could be used in concert on multiple
The cloud-centric features are impressive
indeed. For example, Office 2013 is designed to save documents to the companys
SkyDrive cloud storage service by default. You can work on a Word document or
another application, such as a slide show for example, and when you close the
document on one device and open it in another, youll be in the same spot,
regardless of the device. Office 2013 is designed for use on large and small
screens, on desktop or portable devices, and in a variety of environments,
including on cell phones. Oh, and there is a stand-alone version of Microsoft
Office just in case living in the cloud doesnt work for you.
Perhaps equally important, the new version of
Office is fully touch-enabled. When you use the software in a touch-screen
environment, the menus and icons change subtly to allow the fat-fingered among
us (me, for example) to use the product successfully. This is important,
because Office 2013 is going to be included on the Windows RT version of the
Surface tablet when its released in October.
The new version of Office will run in the
cloud, and it will be accessible to pretty much anything that can access Microsoft
now. In fact, Office 2013 will appear spontaneously to users of
Office 365 as the new applications are made ready. This means that if you want
to use Office on your iPad, thats how youll have to do it. While there will
be a version of Office 2013 for the Macintosh, you can bet that Microsoft wont
release a version for iOS.
By now, youve probably noticed that
Microsoft has made a flurry of major product announcements in the last few
days. We now know that Windows
will ship in October. We know that the Surface tablet
with Windows RT will ship at about the same time. And we know that Office 2013
will be on the Surface.
What hasnt been mentioned by Microsoft is
that this is the companys push to retain its position as the dominant office
productivity application provider to enterprises. Despite the broad acceptance
of the iPad and the iPhone in the enterprise, its clear that Apple doesnt
really understand or appreciate the needs of enterprise IT.
Thats demonstrated by the companys continuing
opposition to allowing companies to meet their security needs with anti-malware
software, for example. And while iOS devices work with Microsoft Exchange,
managing iOS with enterprise management software remains a challenge when users
can pull themselves out of the management environment whenever they wish.