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The New Office is on Its Way

Posted on 7.23.2012

Major news out of Camp Microsoft last week, as CEO Steve Ballmer officially unveiled the customer preview of the new line of Microsoft Office products.

The biggest advancement in the company’s core suite of applications is its cross-platform capabilities, as well as its deep integration with Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service.

The new Office works seamlessly with touch, stylus, mouse, or keyboard across all new Windows 8 devices, from desktops to tablets to smartphones. Users will be able to create and edit content and access features using touch or a stylus as naturally as if they were using a keyboard and mouse.

It will also come with new Windows 8 applications built for touch-first experiences on tablet devices, such as OneNote and Lync. For ARM-based Windows 8 devices, there is Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which offers new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

But it’s not just about optimizing Office for new devices; Microsoft has been hard at work preparing for the future, which includes social media and cloud technology.

On the social front, Microsoft has integrated Office 2013 (via SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics) with Yammer, the private social network for businesses, and it now comes with Skype, letting users call or instant message anyone, as well as add their contacts into Lync. Companies can also use SharePoint to follow people, teams, documents, and sites, as well as view embedded pictures, videos, and Office content.

As for the cloud, Office 2013 will be closely tied to Microsoft SkyDrive; so much so that all documents will be saved to SkyDrive by default, making that content accessible across various Windows devices. For example, when users take notes using OneNote, regardless of the device, they can then access them again on whatever they happen to be using at the time. Of course, these documents will be available offline and will sync once the user reconnects to the Internet.

Cloud technology allows Office to roam a user’s personalized settings, which includes recently used files, templates, and custom dictionaries (among other things), to remember where they left off and bring them back in a single click.

Suite offerings and pricing plans will be announced in the fall, as well as new Office 365 subscription services, which (when available) will all feature 2013 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. The three announced subscription services will be Home Premium, Small Business Premium, and ProPlus, and each will come with rights to version upgrades and per-use rights for up to five PCs, Macs, and/or mobile devices.

It has been officially announced that Windows 8 will be released on October 26.

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