Microsoft Counting on Office 2013 to Retain Enterprise App Dominance

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 company€™s ubiquitous business application suite, Microsoft Office 2013, you wouldn€™t 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 devices.

The cloud-centric features are impressive indeed. For example, Office 2013 is designed to save documents to the company€™s 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, you€™ll 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 doesn€™t 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 it€™s 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 Office 365 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, that€™s how you€™ll have to do it. While there will be a version of Office 2013 for the Macintosh, you can bet that Microsoft won€™t release a version for iOS.

By now, you€™ve probably noticed that Microsoft has made a flurry of major product announcements in the last few days. We now know that Windows 8 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 hasn€™t been mentioned by Microsoft is that this is the company€™s 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, it€™s clear that Apple doesn€™t really understand or appreciate the needs of enterprise IT.

That€™s demonstrated by the company€™s 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.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...