Office 2013 Preview Debut and 10 Things It Says About Microsoft's Future

NEWS ANALYSIS: The July 16 debut of Office 2013 shows that once and for all Microsoft understands why cloud computing is essential to its future success and it needs to allow customers to access its flagship application suite on any type of platform that will enable them to work productively.

Microsoft on July 16 announced a new Office that the enterprise software giant has give a final, official name. The business productivity application suite, which the news media are calling either Office 2013 or Office 15 until Microsoft lays down the final branding, comes with a host of improvements designed to make the software more cloud- and mobile-friendly.

Among the changes is a tablet interface and one that will let Office work quite well on smartphones. Whether consumers and enterprise users will actually take advantage of the feature, however, remains to be seen.

Regardless, Office 2013 looks to be, at this point, a solid offering for consumers and enterprise users alike. More importantly, it appears to provide some insight into what Microsoft is thinking and what it believes will be integral to its success over the long-term. From the cloud to strong design to even Skype, it appears there are several elements that will have an important role in Microsoft€™s future success.

Read on to find out what the improvement in Office 2013

says about

Microsoft and where it€™s heading in the coming years.

1. The cloud matters

Microsoft seems convinced that the cloud is vastly important to its future. With Office 2013, for example, the company is emphasizing how closely tied the platform will be with the Web. From its Office 365 linkage to its connection to the SkyDrive cloud storage service, Office 2013 seems to underscore just how important the cloud has finally become for Microsoft.

2. So does the mobile space

The mobile space is arguably the most important frontier for Microsoft. In Office 2013, the company said that the suite has been optimized for tablets and will work well on smartphones. Microsoft realizes that productivity-suite users want to go mobile today and it is decisively accommodating them.

3. Timing is everything

So far, Microsoft hasn€™t said exactly when it will launch Office 2013. But the latest word is that it will deliver the suite in October at about the same time it releases Windows 8, Windows RT and the Surface tablet. The move is a not-so-subtle attempt to try and take advantage of the crucial holiday-shopping season and get vendors to have their products ready for the end of the year. It€™s also when many enterprise IT managers are making critical end-of-the year buying decision to use up their capital budget allocations. More than ever, Microsoft understands timing is everything.

4. Skype will be everywhere

When Microsoft decided to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion, the company said that it would bring the VOIP service to many of its products. It€™s making an important showing in Office 2013. Does that mean Skype will likely play a crucial role in the rest of the company€™s products? You can bet on it.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...