New MS Of­fice Could be the Killer app for Win­dows 8

PCQuest - - PC QUEST - Anil Cho­pra, Ed­i­tor, anilc@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in, twit­ter.com/anil­chop, in.linkedin. com/in/anil­chop

There are lots of ar­gu­ments go­ing in fa­vor of and against up­grad­ing to Win­dows 8. The criticism we’ve re­ceived from var­i­ous CEOs (see pg. 23) against up­grad­ing to it re­volves around lack of killer fea­tures, us­abil­ity is­sues of the new UI, and the fact that you can ac­cess pretty much any­thing from a web browser, so why up­grade to a new OS? Pos­si­bly, many of these ques­tions could be an­swered by look­ing for the killer app for Win­dows 8. That’s re­quired for the suc­cess or fail­ure of any prod­uct. Email was the killer app of the In­ter­net, multi-touch was the killer app of tablets, GUI and ease of use were the killer apps of Win­dows 95, and so on. For Win­dows 8, the killer app could well be the lat­est ver­sion of MS Of­fice, called the New Of­fice now, but will be called just Of­fice with­out any ver­sion when it’s launched.

A lot has hap­pened to Of­fice ever since MS re­leased its early pre­view in July this year. The prod­uct has fi­nally gone RTM, with gen­eral avail­abil­ity in first quar­ter of 2013.

The New Of­fice am­pli­fies the in­te­grated ex­pe­ri­ence of Win­dows 8, be­cause it will be ac­ces­si­ble and us­able from any Win­dows 8 based de­vice—smart­phone, tablet, lap­top or desk­top, and work is un­der­way to make it work across An­droid and iOS de­vices as well. It would be us­able with any in­put de­vice—touch, sty­lus, mouse, and key­board. It ties closely with the cloud, al­low­ing users to share doc­u­ments and col­lab­o­rate on them via Mi­crosoft SkyDrive. Third, it will al­low greater con­trol, like si­mul­ta­ne­ously run­ning a pre­vi­ous ver­sion of Of­fice on the same ma­chine. No unin­stall nec­es­sary.

The sig­na­ture apps of Of­fice—Word, Pow­erPoint, Ex­cel, Out­look, etc have lots of new fea­tures to en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity. Briefly, Out­look helps you look-up con­tacts not only from your lo­cal ad­dress book, but from your so­cial me­dia IDs as well. It helps un­der­stand your con­tacts bet­ter by show­ing their so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­ity. MS Word will al­low PDF doc­u­ments edit­ing, though we’re not sure which PDF creators’ PDFs will be sup­ported since PDFs can be cre­ated from so many apps. Ex­cel’s split cell func­tion­al­ity be­comes more in­tel­li­gent, rec­og­nizes your split­ting pat­terns and let’s you im­i­tate them across other cells. Cre­ation of graphs will be eas­ier and re­quire fewer clicks. Pow­erPoint will give two dif­fer­ent views for pre­sen­ter and view­ers, with the for­mer be­ing able to see slide notes, next slide de­tails, time du­ra­tion passed, etc.

Be­sides great fea­tures, there are some con­cerns as well. New Of­fice will not work on Win XP, be­cause the OS has reached end of life. In­ter­est­ingly, noth­ing is men­tioned about its avail­abil­ity for Win­dows Vista ei­ther. The cloud stor­age fa­cil­ity is cur­rently lim­ited to SkyDrive only, so users of Drop­box, Google Drive, etc will have to hope that some ISV will cre­ate third party plug-ins and so­lu­tions for them.

De­tails on li­cens­ing cost, SOUs, etc haven’t yet been dis­closed, but there are free up­grade en­ti­tle­ments de­pend­ing upon the li­cense and Soft­ware As­sur­ance plan you’ve taken from Mi­crosoft. Do try out the cus­tomer pre­view your­self at http://www.mi­crosoft.com/of­fice/pre­view/en and send us your feed­back.

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